New Roots of Louisville: A nonprofit model that helps families AND farmers!

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 | 2 comments

While New Roots of Louisville tied for second place at the Slow Money 2014 conference showcase, this organization’s approach and  innovative model won me over by a country mile.

After my post last week about the event and how impressed I was at all the entrepreneurs giving business a good name, I was a little surprised that my personal favorite is a nonprofit.  But when a nonprofit manages to solve problems in the community while also helping local farmers earn a fair living—you have my attention and unending respect.  This organization rocks! Best of all, they are teaching other communities how to do the same.

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New Roots was formed to increase fresh produce availability and affordability to neighborhoods in food deserts in and around Louisville, KY. You know the ones in every urban and many suburban areas, where greasy fast-food and corner convenience stores make up the only menu options for miles for lack of good grocery stores and farmers markets.  Farmers markets usually can’t survive there as most small farmers are barely making it even at well-attended markets.

The usual approach to food deserts and food insecurity is some type of food giveaway program. Those do serve a vital emergency function and are much needed. But as to increasing long-term access to fresh foods (having farmers in the area) and helping build healthy local economies they do little. If you want small farms and farmers growing healthy produce in an area they have to be able to make some type of basic living doing it—that is also sustainability.

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New Roots founder and director Karyn Moskowitz may have started a nonprofit, but it seems to share the same triple bottom-line goals (social, ecological and financial) of social entrepreneurship. The financial aspect being not only making fresh vegetables affordable to families with limited buying power but also making it possible for farmers to serve the community while surviving as farmers.


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This brilliant twist is accomplished by pooling the funds (cash as well as SNAP benefits) of a community to buy fresh produce in bulk at wholesale prices from local growers. Buyers are each shareholders who pays on a sliding scale for a share of veggies, somewhat like a CSA but without the high cost of paying a lump sum upfront for the season. Families can pay weekly and opt in and out of the season as they wish. The food is purchased then gathered and divvied up to shareholders at “Fresh Stop” gatherings held at nearby churches.

Moskowitz describes the Fresh Stops as being a cross between a ‘vegetable flash mob and a family reunion’ where folks don’t want to leave at the end as it is so enjoyable. Which is building community as well as healthy eating habits. And field trips to farms! Win-win in every direction. I told you they were amazing.

temp new roots pic 2Founder Moskowitz said her epiphany came when someone advised her early that ‘the community wants to be heard, not saved’ and that the communities also already contained the needed model –cooperative economics– which could be expanded.

So New Roots is growing the local economy while getting healthy food into neighborhoods that don’t have access otherwise, growing the community AND a brand new crop of farmers too. I’m in awe and a raving fan. Hats off to New Roots!

Here is a short (8 min or so) youtube of Karyn presenting at Slow Money. (She’s the first presenter of the longer presentation – all inspiring I might add. Karyn starts at 1:20 minutes in.) Karyn tells the story and explains the process as well as their new project of teaching this model to other communities.

Every day is better with some inspiration, please watch!

love, Leigh

All photos from the New Roots website which is  here:

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  1. Such great news! Thanks for sharing, Leigh!

    • Thanks so much Pamela. I am always so happy to see you have visited the blog!