GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Growing food is just one goal at the six-acre Shalom Farms in Goochland.
Dominic Barrett and his band of merry farmers want to help boys and girls blossom too.
“I think access to healthy food is a right. A basic right,” Shalom Farms Director Dominic Barrett said. “We’ve got Kale. We’ve got cabbage, We’ve got collards. We’ve got broccoli. Our goal is to collaboratively increase access to healthy food in urban Richmond at its most basic.”
Dominic is the backbone behind Shalom Farms’ effort to move fresh produce 40 miles away into food deserts where fresh vegetables and fruits are scarce, particularly in the heart of the city and parts of rural Central Virginia.
“It is a complex problem. We want to find different approaches to the problem to make sure everyone has a chance to access it and fall in love with good food,” Barrett said.
This year Shalom Farms is growing 85,000 pounds of fresh, sustainable produce.
“We’ll see people pick squash right off the plant and we’ll dice them and thinly slice them broccoli or squash and you see a kid light up and say who would have something like this would be so good,” Dominic said.
More than one third of the food Dominic Barrett grows ends up at FeedMore in Richmond where it is distributed directly to children through popular after school and summer feeding programs.
“Dominic makes it happen,” Peter Sokol, with FeedMore, said. “Dominic is the driving force behind it. He approached us years ago about a collaboration. And we jumped on board and have been partners ever since.”
Shalom Farms also establishes temporary farm stands in public housing units across the city of Richmond. Stephanie Carrington, who works at the Creighton Court Resource Center, said her family has benefited from Dominic’s fresh food push firsthand.
“Shalom Farm has a great impact on the community,” she said. “It is a feeling I can’t explain. Knowing my kids will have fresh produce that is readily available to them it is wonderful.”
Shalom Farms delivers vegetables children actually like to eat and keep coming back asking for more. Dominic Barrett is happy to oblige.
He said he could not do it without the efforts of his fellow farmers and the thousands of volunteers who donate time harvesting produce each year.
“I wake up almost every day with a smile on my face,” Dominic said. “Because I’m so lucky and so blessed to do what I love to do and that is to share food, essentially.”
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