A common cause. It began as the seed of an idea among a group of friends, all ardent supporters of the Urban Ministry Center, an interfaith agency serving poor and homeless people in Charlotte, North Carolina. Why not launch a microbusiness centered around a common passion, one where proceeds would directly benefit UMC? When they couldn’t find any reasons not to, the group decided to create a seasonal farm stand featuring locally grown organic produce, artisanal cheeses, honey, fresh flowers and fine homemade sweets and savories. With seed money provided by co-founders Sarah Belk and Paige Waugh, and a tremendous commitment of time, talent and sweat equity by a core group of givers and doers, Common Grounds Farm Stand sprang to life and become an immediate success.
A common bond. Finding just the right setting for Common Grounds Farm Stand was key to its success. John and Kelley Vieregg, owners of Interiors Marketplace in Myers Park, shared a vision of creating a meeting place for neighbors to buy local and give back to the community. The Viereggs graciously donated the building’s side porch for Common Grounds first location. Amid great enthusiasm, the farm stand opened there in May 2009. This year, Common Grounds makes a short move to the Thies Mortgage front porch to continue the tradition of feeding people, building relationships and nurturing the Charlotte community.
For the common good. Common Grounds Farm Stand operates May through September and, in its inaugural season, raised more than $25,000 for the Urban Ministry Center. More than 100 volunteers of all ages actively participate in baking, selling, set-up and operations of the stand. Helping UMC has become a way for all involved to bond as a community and, in giving, receive to many blessings in return. Exciting plans for the future include providing consultation to groups interested in replicating the Common Grounds model in other towns throughout the country.