the produce projectWhen you move into a new home in a new area, sometimes it takes a while to get familiar with its people and community.  Sometimes it can take some time to find the real treasures hiding in plain sight… treasures like The Produce Project, a local 501c(3) here in Raleigh NC.  The Produce Project is a small nonprofit that can cut your grocery bill in half and provide healthy, fresh produce for your family in your new home.  All you have to do is order a share of produce and then come pick it up in Raleigh by North Person Street on Thursday.

Mike Shumake has been running The Produce Project quietly in Raleigh for about 2 years, and he’s made a ton of impact in his local community.  What started as a way to save money for his gluten sensitive wife and eat healthy for himself has blossomed into a fast growing non-profit organization called The Produce Project.  Early on the idea was to have friends chip in to buy shares of produce so that everyone could share the large cases of fruits and vegetables, because in reality, what is one small family going to do with 30lbs of tomatoes? After Shumake saw how many friends were interested in receiving affordable, fresh produce that helped the local community he knew he could implement a business model to impact even more people in the Triangle, specifically the food insecure and students.  Mike’s background is in education, having taught for over ten years in North Carolina, working with at risk youth, and winning teacher of the year in 2009.

Currently you can buy a share of produce for $18 or donate a box directly to those in need for $15.  Any leftover produce not equally divided between the shares is donated.  Last year, The Produce project was able to donate over 12,000 lbs. of fresh produce to families in Raleigh, and this year they are slated to double that number.  The goal of The Produce Project is to implement an educational program in local schools.  Shumake’s goal is to have students create an actual business using project based learning and a hands on learning experience that also provides access to fresh produce, solves cost barriers, and educates the community around smart eating decisions.

Currently, The Produce Project is serving the Raleigh area but is looking to expand to other locations. To reach their broader goals they need additional funding from grants, local business support, and local district funds.  You can help The Produce Project by volunteering your time packaging and sorting produce for pick up on Thursdays, offering web design and marketing help, posting on social media platforms, and by simply buying or donating a delicious load of veggies by visiting their website and purchasing a share.  Visit their website at www.theproduceproject.org to learn more about how you can purchase a share of produce.