It is a simple concept: everyone should have access to healthy food. But, for many in our community, simply driving to the grocery store to buy the food you need is not an option.
That’s where Tallahassee Food Network (TFN) comes in. Working across lines of division to grow community-based food systems that work for everyone, Tallahassee Food Network is one of nine organizations being recognized with a $2,000 grant for their work by the Beatitude Foundation and #GiveTLH, a community effort underwritten by philanthropist and businessman Rick Kearney.
The mission of TFN is just as simple: grow community-based food programs that serve to educate people and provide access to healthy and affordable food. Created in 2010 out of a collaboration between the University of Florida Department of Anthropology and Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council, called the Health Equity Alliance of Tallahassee (HEAT),
TFN works engage people across multiple community service organizations to link local farmers with schools, food pantries, markets, home gardeners, anyone interested in cultivating a garden for themselves. TFN strives to equitably transcend social divisions by building across lines of race, income, neighborhood, age and gender.
“Community partners came together to solve food insecurity,” explains founder Miaisha Mitchell, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council. “It started with the members of the Youth Empowerment and Leadership Development Academy, who wanted to start an urban farm.”
From that interest came iGrow, a Frenchtown-based program that teaches people how to grow bucket gardens at home, teaches young people about urban agriculture, and works to engage youth in the work of creating community-based food systems.
These days, the Tallahassee Food Network is in the process of putting down roots in a new location. Their original garden was part of a piece of property that was sold, taking the fruits of their labor with it. Now meeting regularly to maintain a plot in Frenchtown, the network holds planting days where residents can learn how to work the land, grow food that they can share and eat, and learn about the role of healthy, green produce to combat health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In 2019, the Tallahassee Food Network branched out with the creation of a traveling grocery store called Huckster’s Mobile Market, named after produce vendors, historically called “hucksters,” who would drive through isolated and low-income communities in the era before large-scale traditional grocery stores.
After winning a grant from WIRED Magazine and Jack’s 2019 Pitch Distilled competition, Huckster’s is on it’s way to becoming a reality, but it needs your help. Donations to get the store running are accepted at www.hucksters.org.
COVID has hit the Tallahassee Food Network, one of many organizations that relies on gatherings of people to collaborate on projects together. Its monthly Collards and Cornbread meetings, once a place to network, learn, and share ideas, have moved online. Planting days at the Frenchtown garden still need work. But, Mitchell and other leaders are optimistic. “We want to expand into the Panhandle,” she says, “to people who are out of the reach of Second Harvest.”
The #GiveTLH series will culminate this month with a chance for Tallahassee readers to vote for their favorite profiled nonprofit. In addition to a micro-grant for each featured organization, the top three vote-getting organizations will receive a $10,000, $5,000 and $2,000 grant from the Beatitude Foundation. The stories will be compiled on give.tallahassee.com.
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#GiveTLH, underwritten by the Beatitude Foundation and Rick Kearney, is a look at nine nonprofits in our community and how you can help them in their life-changing work. At the conclusion of this series, Kearney will award grants to the nonprofit that gets the most votes in an online poll. For more profiles, visit give.tallahassee.com.