As we spend time this week celebrating the hardworking people that bring farm-fresh food to your table, it’s important to recognize that farmers markets are just one place to buy and sell local produce. Many communities have thriving markets, where farmers have found loyal customers and rely on the setup for their income. However, there are neighborhoods where farmers markets are simply not a viable business model.

New Roots ImageFresh Stop Markets are a direct response to our segregated local food system. The model uses cooperative economics to make fresh, local produce affordable for everyone, because fresh food is not just a matter of health, it is a basic human right. New Roots serves as a consultant in the design of a Fresh Stop and each pop-up market is co-created by neighborhood leaders, community volunteers, and local farmers.

Community members purchase wholesale-priced shares of seasonal produce in advance so that farmers don’t face the same risk as they would with a poorly attended farmers’ market. In order to meet the needs of limited-resource families, shares are available on a sliding scale, with low-income shares being subsidized by high-income share prices.

The below interview with Fresh Stops farmers Adam and Rae Barr originally appeared in the New Roots Smoketown Neighborhood Fresh Stop Market newsletter. Visit the New Roots website for more information.

Barr FarmsMEET ADAM AND RAE.

Adam and Rae Strobel Barr operate an organic farm on land that has been in Adam’s family since 1835. They are also busy raising two sons, 2-year-old Cedar and his newborn brother, Sylvan. Their farm in Rhodelia, Kentucky produces 40 different varieties of vegetables, as well as pasture-raised chickens and grass-fed cows.

WHY DO YOU FARM? It’s been the heritage in our family for seven generations. I think it’s a way to do environmental, social, climate (work) and all sorts of justice work in the world. The best way to do that is through agriculture because that is how humans interface with the environment.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO GROW AND WHY? Ginger, because people love it and it extends the season. It’s kind of a specialty crop for us that we’ve been able to get a lot of enthusiasm for. It’s a good thing to eat. There’s nothing like it when it comes fresh out of the field.

WHAT IS SOMETHING ABOUT FARMING THAT MOST OF US DON’T KNOW? It’s way more complex than people think. On one day, you have to be a meteorologist, a soil scientist, a plant pathologist, a biologist, a dad, a mom, a marketer, and an accountant, all in one day. That’s just a normal day. It’s pretty all encompassing. You can’t really be a specialist in any one thing. You can be, but that’s a different type of farming than we do. And a mechanic (his wife said from the background). That one is obvious; you’re always fixing something.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT BENG INVOLVED WITH THE FRESH STOP MARKETS AND WHY ARE PARTNERSHIPS LIKE THIS SO IMPORTANT? I think Fresh Stops are doing one of the most important pieces – helping people help themselves. And they do their justice work and connect people to farmers in a way that is a lot more based in a world of justice where there is fresh food for everyone. And that to me is something that has always been a part of our thinking and our mission with the farm. I can’t do that work at the farm without engaging with Fresh Stops.

Visit Adam and Rae at the Douglass Loop Farmers Market Saturdays, 10am-2pm, or the Phoenix Hill NuLu Farmers Market Tuesdays, 3-6pm. For more information about Barr Farms, please visit www.barrfarmsky.com.
Get to Know Your Farmer: Adam and Rae Barr