Fresh Stop Wonderland by Amber Burns, New Roots Assistant Director
The wobbly table at my favorite lunch spot was not enough to keep me grounded. I gripped on to the table with all my might but my heart would not slow its pace. With one phone call I had been transported to the world of wonderland where all things are possible. Where dreams of good health are realized and the once silenced voices of a community create platforms for their stories to be told and received. Where my sweat and effort would be treasured. Where people are valued because of their humanity. This wonderland located in the very air of Louisville, Ky is not perfect but it is exactly where I am supposed to be. That day, sitting at my favorite wobbly table, I accepted the position of Assistant Director of New Roots, Inc; a non-profit organization addressing food access issues one Fresh Stop at a time.
What is a Fresh Stop? Fresh Stops are the fruit of community organizing and cooperative economics, a process facilitated by New Roots, Inc. Fresh Stops are community owned food distribution programs that function similar to the CSA model. Unlike a traditional CSA, shareholders are not required to pay one lump sum at the beginning of the harvesting season. Instead, shareholders have the option of purchasing a share of local, fresh, seasonal produce three days prior to Fresh Stop pick up day.
Fresh Stop day is not only the time to pick up produce, it is a meeting place for families and friends. New Roots Fresh Stops have been described as “vegetable flashmobs.” The Farmers arrive with hundreds of pounds of produce and instantly, volunteers spring into action; carrying the produce into the building, counting every single fruit and vegetable, and finally arranging it in a presentable manner that is appealing to the eye. The first time I experienced this level of collaboration, I was stunned; in awe at what a community could accomplish when they work together, organize and empower one another. This level of commitment and love is contagious. It is passed on with every hug, hand shake, smile, and word of encouragement from a stranger to try a vegetable that you may have never seen.
I learned very quickly that New Roots does not aid the community. New Roots is the community. Together we facilitate learning. We empower one another. We build relationships between communities and local farmers; creating a sense of trust that is rare in today’s food system. Because of this, I am immensely honored to say that I am a member of the New Roots family. I look forward to expanding our reach as we work to eradicate food deserts and discover more leaders who are looking for an opportunity to ignite the demand for fresh local food in their communities.
If you would like to witness the magic, please visit one of our five locations.