Last summer farmer Gabriel Noard, owner of Pangaea Plants, poured his heart and soul into a crop of watermelon on his 24-acre farm in Rutherford County North Carolina. These “Moon and Stars” watermelon—a heirloom variety known for its speckled green and yellow rind—can be tricky to grow. Despite careful attention, weeds grew up around the watermelon and marred their skin.
Though the watermelons were tasty and nutritious, the buyer he had hoped to work with couldn’t accept the blemished melons. Gabriel had already hired labor, rented a delivery truck and invested countless hours in these melons. Instead of giving up, Gabriel sought out a creative solution.
With help from ASAP, in just a matter of days, Buncombe County North Carolina Schools agreed to buy 4,500 pounds of Gabriel’s watermelons. It was the first time local watermelon had been served in Buncombe County Schools: a major success at a school district that values getting food from local farms. The sale set the stage for future purchases, and Pangaea Plants went on to supply over 2,000 pounds of winter squash to Buncombe County students.
Gabriel says that getting healthy produce into the hands of young people is a huge incentive to keep growing. Like many local farmers, he says helping the community access nutritious food motivates him each season.
Connecting farms like Pangaea Plants to local schools strengthens the bonds between growers and eaters. More stories about local farmers and unique partnerships can be found on ASAP’s community website www.fromhere.org