The founders of Neighborhood Food Solutions (NFS) believe that Robert Pierce’s vision in developing a strong foundation for a just food system in South Madison, and its surrounding communities, is crucial. The conversation started about forming a nonprofit organization in the Summer of 2016. In December 2016, NFS was officially registered with the State of Wisconsin.
Robert Pierce, a long-time resident of South Madison, has started his own practice of urban agriculture in 1984. Robert recalled his initial steps saying, “It started off as something for myself [with] health benefits because of the allergies I had contracted after Vietnam. I was also at a business college at the time too. And I decided at that point that I wanted to become an organic farmer,”. His motivation was to produce healthy food for himself and his family. Over time his goal has expanded to ensuring access to safe, affordable, and healthy food for the low-income and multi-ethnic South Madison community. As the owner of Half Forty Acres Farm, and the Manager of the South Madison Farmers’ Market, Robert has been active in multiple local food projects and is now focused on developing a strong foundation for a just food system in South Madison.
At its recent inception, NFS was founded upon two principles: (1) to engage community members in learning about the economic, social, health, and environmental impacts of food, and (2) to promote active participation from community members and help implement community development strategies that create food-related economic opportunities.
Under NFS, two programs carry out the founding principles and fill in the gaps seen in the community. The Farming After Incarceration Release (FAIR) Initiative gives formerly incarcerated individuals a chance to get back on their feet socially and financially. These individuals are engaged in urban agriculture while participating in strengthening local food systems. Program for Entrepreneurial Agricultural Training (PEAT) that was developed in 2009 works with low income and at-risk youth about where food is going and who is getting it. Beyond simply teaching them how to farm, the program guides them on how to become their own employer, eat healthy, and grow their own food.
We realize that we cannot work alone in making a difference. It is important to note that these programs are a product of a collaborative effort by multiple nonprofit organizations (see our partners’ page). ← make a link