School Fund-raising with Mother Earth Produce
Story by LEAH SHAPIRO | Photos by SUSANNE HACKETT
Although it's never too late to start eating more nutritious foods, it is also never too early. To bring the possibility of healthier meals to consumers of all ages, Mother Earth Produce (MEP) provides a year-round delivery service of organic produce and local edibles from nearby farms and businesses straight to your doorstep. Each week, owners Andrea and Graham DuVall select seasonal fruits and vegetables from over 25 farms within a 50 mile radius of Asheville to pack into each vegetable bin.
To make buying local even more beneficial to our community, Andrea and Graham have recently begun Support Our Schools (SOS), a healthy fundraising program that earns money for participating schools. “We're excited to bring such a healthy option to school fundraising,” Graham explains, “SOS supports not only schools, but the farming community as well.”
Instead of selling cookie dough or candy, students promote the purchase of MEP bins to raise funds for their school's projects, programs, and educational needs. Once a school signs up through the easy online form found on the MEP website, it will be assigned an SOS referral code that students can share with parents, friends, and family within a 50 mile radius of Asheville. New or existing MEP customers can select their weekly bins and then plug in their respective referral codes at checkout. Schools earn $4 per bin for the first 100 bins bought with their specific code. Then, customers can continue to order bins as they wish using the code thereafter. For every additional bin sold over 100, the school earns $2 per bin. Payments are distributed from MEP to schools every two months, with the count resetting in May of 2013.
“This program enables MEP to be a direct connection between farmers and our community on an even larger scale,” explains Andrea who was a 6th grade English teacher in North Atlanta. “When they register, school administrators and teachers tell us which programs they plan on using the money for.” One middle school was registered by its team of 8th grade science teachers. They write, “This concept integrates our science curriculum through the ideas of energy transfer, land use, use of resources, and healthy life decisions.”
An elementary school administrator writes “One of my goals is to start a garden club in which the students become the teachers,” she says. “Our students would really benefit from any form of experiential learning; therefore, trips to local farms may also be a goal for this garden program!”
With absolutely no cost to the school, limit on how much money can be earned, nor additional cost to MEP customers, SOS is a remarkable fundraiser that reaches out on so many important levels. As always, MEP users can customize and put a pause on their weekly orders as well as request extra items to their bins. Since MEP started up in April, they have increased their weekly offerings to include add-ons like Roots' hummus, jams from Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon, True South pimento cheese, coffee from Dynamite Roasting Company, and bread from Annie's Bakery, among others.
This Thanksgiving, families preparing dinners can especially benefit from these deliveries. Fresh turkeys from Balsam Gardens in Sylva will be added to the menu. “Our goal is to make organic and sustainably grown produce accessible and convenient to everyone in the community,” says Andrea. This holiday season, we can eat healthier, support our children's schools, and spend more time around the table than we spend in the kitchen.
To register for Mother Earth Produce services and for more information, visit online at motherearthproduce.com.