Germantown farmstand aims to give community access to affordable organic food

 Founders Jessica Cunningham, Leonard Jones and George Bryant were all at the Hansberry Garden and Nature Center farmstand on Sunday. (Laura Benshoff/for NewsWorks)

Founders Jessica Cunningham, Leonard Jones and George Bryant were all at the Hansberry Garden and Nature Center farmstand on Sunday. (Laura Benshoff/for NewsWorks)

This summer, the Hansberry Garden and Nature Center (HGNC) launched its inaugural Farm Stand project under the banner of “Local.Organic.Affordable.”

And fear not, you can still stop by the corner of Wayne Avenue and Hansberry Street between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sundays for organic produce, flowers and donated baked goods at reasonable prices. (For example, a bundle of fresh of herbs costs $1, while a pint of cherry tomatoes is $2.)

How it started

Having launched on July 21, and running through Oct. 6, the farmstand depends on the interest of residents and initiative of volunteers.

George Bryant, Jessica Cunningham and Leonard Jones founded the event armed only with leftovers from the center’s plant sale in May.

“We had to decide what we could grow in a month,” explained Cunningham.

Planting in five unused beds donated by the HGNC board, they decided on tomatoes, greens, herbs and zinnias.

Their ideal customers?

“People who might not like vegetables that much, but might be able to be convinced,” Jones said.

How it works

Every Sunday since, volunteers have taken around 40 minutes to harvest, wash and display their produce, as well as baked goods donated by Metropolitan Bakery and fruit from Greene Street’s A & N House of Produce.

The farmstand has brought in about $50 a week for Hansberry’s operating budget, which pays for community events and organizational upkeep such as the Oct. 19 fall festival and flea market.

To drum up business, farmstanders flag down passersby, like a gentleman who stopped this Sunday while en route to Dunkin Donuts in a white SUV.

Within five minutes, he bought a bouquet of flowers, two slices of homemade lemon almond poundcake and several tomatoes, all for $5.

Sampling the “Green Monster,” a bright-green tomato with jagged yellow stripes, he said, “That tastes like candy!”

What’s next?

With just two weeks left in the farm-stand season, members are already thinking about next year.

For her part, Cunningham said they hope to attract more affordable local-food vendors.

“A butcher, a baker, someone selling eggs,” who might want to pay the $15 table-rental fee, she said. “The objective is to have organic food be affordable.”

For his part, Jones said, “It’s awesome, all of the support we’re getting. We’ve got quote-unquote regulars. People [used to] ask us if we sell our vegetables. Now, the answer is ‘Yes.'”

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