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- Innovation Challenges
Sweet Beet City Farm is a locally owned and operated urban farm in Old Five Points on the corner of Mangum and Broadway Streets – directly across from the popular Saltbox Seafood Joint. After a generous arrangement with the land’s owner, Motorco Music Hall’s Alex Washburn, owners Laura Stephenson and Emily-Kate Hannapel broke ground on the 1.3 acre property in February. Investing their own capital and sweat equity, the two have since transformed the fallow land into productive rows of onions, kale, chard, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and flowers. Soon, shoppers will enjoy fresh, local eggs.
Stephenson and Hannapel live in the neighborhood and are among the growing community of social entrepreneurs in Durham. Social entrepreneurs are business owners and nonprofit innovators who seek a triple bottom line (3BL): people planet, profit. This emerging values-based concept measures an enterprise’s success on its positive economic, ecological, and social impact. According to Bull City Forward Executive Director, Keeva Kase, 3BL ventures are the future of business here and abroad. “The veil is rent. More than ever, informed consumers know more about their products and services. Businesses, like Durham’s Burt’s Bees, who can deliver an excellent product while investing in their community and achieving a zero-waste production model have the upper hand in the market these days.”
Sweet Beet City Farm shares these values and practices and they believe Durham does too.
Situated in what is known as a “food desert” – a low-income community located more than a mile from vendors supplying affordable healthy foods – Sweet Beet City Farm, while yet in their first year of operations, envisions filling this vital community need by repurposing a vacant commercial location into a local corner shop that exclusively sells fresh, organic produce and other local products to its neighbors. With prices lower than traditional organic retailers in the area, they are gaining the courage to make the leap.
Building upon their impressive resumes, the pair approaches the decision carefully, wanting to ensure business viability, sustainability, and contextual relevance. In terms of their educations and experiences, Hannapel studied Community Health and Food Studies at NYU, thereafter accepting a Princeton University Fellowship to apply her studies in Guatemala. Stephenson, a North Carolina native, graduated from UNC with an Environmental Sciences degree and studied abroad in Tanzania, where she met Hannapel.
Each Tuesday afternoon, the Sweet Beet produce stand opens for business. But, if you cannot make it out on Tuesdays, you can place your order on line. Visit www.sweetbeetcityfarm.com for more information.
Sweet Beet City Farm hosts a fundraising party on July 20th at the Farm. There will be music, Fullsteam Brewery, and pie. The festivities begin around 5pm. Laura and Emily-Kate would love to show you around, share their story, and get you involved in their dream.
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