Veggies for a cause! Mill Village Farms exhibits everything we love about supporting local farmers and building community. By supporting Mill Village Farms and buying their delicious and nutritious produce, you are also supporting their skill-development and career programs that help at-risk youth in the area.
The farms were created in 2012 by Dan and Noah, the Founder and Executive Director of Mill Village Ministries. While Mill Village Farms now acts as a separate entity under the guidance of Megan, the Farm Director, and Mary, the Farm Manager, it retains the sense of family and community outreach that Mill Village Ministries has created in the West Village of Greenville. There are summer programs that provide paid jobs to youth in the area. This provides invaluable work experience and a team of support. The experience leads to not only skills that the youth can take further into life, but is a source of self-confidence and gratification in seeing hard work grow.
The farms that make up Mill Village are located in three different areas of Greenville and Easley. These farms are located in places that can be deemed “food deserts.” A “food desert” is an area where access to fresh, whole foods such as vegetables and fruit are unavailable to the people living there. These are usually in rural or low-income neighborhoods where access to transportation is limited. Mill Village Farms has created community farms that provide healthy, affordable, nutrient rich produce to these areas. Walking around these farms was truly an amazing and heart touching experience for the employees here at SRCG.
The team at Mill Village Farms works tirelessly to secure grants to be able to continue operations and to expand the practices they use in working towards complete sustainability. There are many different farming practices involved to produce the Appalachian Certified veggies at Mill Village Farms. Currently, there is a mixture of both hydroponic systems, where vegetables are grown in natural nutrient-dense flowing water, and traditional soil farming. The farms are also in the process of updating their aquaponics system. Aquaponic farming systems utilize the sustainable system of providing fresh, organic nutrients produced by fish to hydroponically grown plants that in turn help purify the water being used. The farms are in the process of becoming Organic Certified, and while the process for that can take a bit, they are currently practicing everything that encompasses organic farming. The farms are a great model for all that can be done in a small space with maximum impact on the community surrounding them.
Mill Village Farms has also taken over the Crop Stop in West Greenville that was originally run by Clemson Extension. This is where all of the veggie cleaning and storage happens. All vegetables are super fresh when arriving to customers, arriving in our store and to the public after being harvested that morning. The Crop Stop provides both dry and cool storage as the farms grow to provide for a larger consumer base. There is also a community kitchen that is being renovated so that people from the area can come learn and benefit from the process of canning. Keep an eye out for the Mobile Market driving around that goes to low-income neighborhoods, food deserts, and business parking lots to sell fresh vegetables to people right off the truck!
Mill Village Farms is one of the best examples here in Greenville of teaching everyone, no matter their background, the benefits of getting to really know your food. Furthering farming and nutrition education to the public and providing a healthy source of meals and support are the foundations of SRCG and we are so happy to partner with Mill Village Farms to support this cause. We even have some of the youth that have graduated from the summer program working in our store! Feel free to ask us how to get involved or visit their website www.millvillagefarms.org for more information.
Mill Village Farms, Megan and Mary, you all are doing amazing work and we are so excited to have you as a part of our #swampfarmer family!