The members of the CAFÉ (Clinch Appalachian Farmers Enterprise) growers group have been working together in Rogersville, Tennessee for the past two years. They have been cooperating to educate one another, aggregate their produce, buy some of their supplies cooperatively, deliver products and bill their customers. The goals are to have sufficient product to supply their customers, to have a unified face for their customers, and to help one another gain skills in the field for food safety and post-harvest handling. Ultimately the growers hope to achieve better quality products marketed attractively for the best possible prices. Individual farmers hope to achieve true self sufficiency from their farm enterprises, to feed their families and have supplemental income, or just generally gain skills and knowledge about growing produce.
CAFÉ has chosen to market their produce primarily to local restaurants, although their original goal was to market to the local school systems. “We have encountered barriers in supply and in transportation that make delivering to our county school system very difficult,” said CAFÉ chair person John Malayter. “We will be purchasing a delivery vehicle this year and hope to use it to educate about the value of local and renewable energy. As we work out delivery and supply issues we can use this bus as a delivery vehicle for the schools as well.” CAFÉ would like to purchase a used school bus that would run on biodiesel and have solar panels for auxiliary power, and outfit it with coolers and shelving. Meanwhile the grower members of CAFÉ are proud to know their produce is feeding friends and neighbors enjoying a local lunch or dinner.
The members of CAFÉ have been able to contribute their experiences to their community as well. Last year, in conjunction with the Rogersville Seventh Day Adventist Church, CAFÉ member Janice Price was able to show church members and interested members of the public what composting worms do. She demonstrated how to grow a colony and harvest worm castings for your garden. This year CAFÉ hopes to help the Rogersville United Methodist Church with a garden project for the low-income community served by the church’s Manna Kitchen. CAFÉ members have pledged help with some labor and some tilling. CAFÉ may also be able to contribute seeds and/or plant starts and will help with gardening planning.
CAFÉ is supported by the staff of the Jubilee Project. The Jubilee Project is a non-denominational non-profit in Sneedville, Tennessee with a mission of service to the underserved of Hancock and Hawkins counties.