Donna Pearson-McClish operates Common Ground Producers and Growers.
The operation is unique in that it delivers fresh produce to senior centers, senior high-rises and mixed multiple high rises with seniors and the disabled. The idea flourished after a coordinator for a senior facility told her that while a supplemental food assistance program provided vouchers to be used at farmers markets, seniors had neither transportation nor local farmers markets, leaving them in a virtual Catch 22. And with fewer and fewer grocery stores in an expanding urban area, many seniors were trapped in a food desert without access to healthy food.
Common Ground Producers and Growers delivers fresh produce to senior centers, senior high-rises and mixed multiple high rises.
By the end of 2014, the year the farm began delivering, they served 11 senior centers and residences. Since then, they’ve grown to 30+ and serve three counties, and the list of centers asking to be included keeps growing as well.
“The demand is greater, the quantity is greater,” McClish said. “Fortunately, we have a community of growers who work with us.”
“Our motto is, all are fed and no one is hungry. We don’t turn anyone away. We take all forms of payment, but if they don’t have any money, they get fed anyway. We’ll even barter.”
The farm has about five acres under cultivation, with pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash, zucchini, collard greens, spinach and purple hull peas—a Southern specialty similar to black-eyed peas.
“What is happening just thrills my heart,” McClish said. “Everyone is benefitting on both ends. The growers are making extra income during the growing season, and the seniors are getting fresh produce at a reduced cost.”