In early 2015, New Roots Director Karyn Moskowitz received a call from the Humana Foundation. An employee—Jake Miller—had recently returned from a decade of leadership at Walgreens and Target to work for Humana Corporation in his hometown of Louisville. Jake Miller, now founder of Toggle Health, a medical equipment start up, knew that once he realized that Fresh Stop Markets could essentially save lives, New Roots had to declare a bold and audacious goal of spreading the model across the region. First, some serious changes that would streamline and codify Fresh Stop Market processes needed to happen.
“When my wife and I visited our first Fresh Stop Market in 2015, we met Karyn, and she gave us each a big hug. The entire Fresh Stop Market experience was incredible. My role since then has been to figure out how to help bring the Fresh Stop Market experience, ‘the hug’, to as many people as possible. I learned a bunch from Karyn about community organizing, food justice, and non-profit work; and we worked with the team to put these New Roots strengths together with more streamlined and replicable processes in a new and unique way,” said Miller.
“Once we set our expansion goal, we realized we needed to make it easier to set-up and run each of the Markets, or we would never be able to grow.” Miller says that there were three things done to make that happen:
What followed was a picture of what the "perfect" Fresh Stop Market could look like. “We did our best to bridge the gaps between those two pictures,” Miller said.
Miller says one example of this gap bridging was investing and simplifying. “The equipment was not of great quality, so it would break easily, and storage was always a problem,” Miller said. “Now we pool the resources across multiple Markets (since they are on different days) which allows us to buy nicer, sturdier equipment that we deliver to each Fresh Stop Market when they need it.” He also said that by centralizing some activities, i.e., oversight of New Roots bank accounts, publication of the newsletter, ordering the produce into the New Roots Hub, this freed up our volunteer leaders to focus on delivering the ‘hug’, the best possible experience for our communities.”
“This new more sustainable model gave us a unifying purpose for the future. We went out in January 2016 to the Just Food! Conference at Harvard Law School and again in January 2017 in Lexington to the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) Conference and presented the model to people from all over the United States. We got a big rush,” Moskowitz said.
Miller says that New Roots has evolved into an organization that can dream big and is developing the people, processes, and platforms to deliver on that dream. “We are building a culture of continual improvement that gives everyone involved the power to help make us better.”
What’s on the horizon for the next year?
‘We just received a small Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant to bring leaders and farmers from the Georgia Farmers’ Market Association here in late September to interact with staff and leaders and see the Markets in action. Some of our leaders will be headed to Georgia in late November to share. We are writing a larger SARE grant to help fund a pilot Market. Our hope is to test the model in Clayton County, Georgia in 2018.”