Sole Food transforms vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables, available at farmer’s markets, local restaurants and retail outlets.
Sole Food’s mission is to empower individuals with limited resources by providing jobs, agricultural training and inclusion in a supportive community of farmers and food lovers. Individuals are given basic agriculture training and are employed at the farm based on their capability.
Some participants excel in this environment, but the project is set up to allow for the “ups and downs” of people with multiple barriers. For some individuals, a weekly shift at Sole Food is one of the only meaningful engagements they hold. Unlike mainstream employers, Sole Food uses employment as an outreach tactic, working to build and nurture relationships with even the most challenging individuals.
We believe healthy food systems foster healthy communities. We envision a future where good food is accessible and grown sustainably, where farms thrive in an urban setting and where the community comes together to connect directly with their food and their neighbors.
Working under the guidance of farmer/author Michael Ableman, individuals are trained to install and manage small production farms on leased urban lots. Produce grown from the farms is washed, cooled, and consolidated at a central location, then sold to restaurants, at farmers markets and distributed to community organizations.
With few significant food production farms within the city, the project provides modeling and education opportunities to a population that has little connection to the natural world or to their food sources. The farm provides employees with a place to learn new skills and an opportunity for self-growth.
Sole Food now includes a network of farms throughout the city that are providing meaningful employment to 25 individuals who are dealing with drug addiction and mental illness. The farms are supplying fresh food to city residents, and presenting a successful credible model of high quality innovative agriculture within the urban context.