By Barney Blakeney
In its effort to purchase the land it’s using to grow fruits and vegetables Fresh Future Farm of North Charleston may be sowing seeds of animosity that however still may produce the crop it desires.
Since 2014, Fresh Future Farm has produced 16 tons of groceries sold or distributed between 2016 and 2019, according to the Fresh Future Farm team. The nearly one-acre farm is located in the Chicora/Cherokee neighborhood in the southern district of the city designated a food desert.
Germaine Jenkins started and runs the farm. In 2017, she began negotiations to purchase from the City of North Charleston the land the farm occupies. The land, part of a neighborhood school previously owned by Charleston County School District was swapped to the city and later became part of a contract deal with Metanoia Community Development Corporation which hopes to renovate the building and property for community purposes.
Jenkins, who once headed Metanoia’s board of directors, wants to negotiate a separate deal with the city. Metanoia CEO Rev. Bill Stanfield said that’s not a problem. Metanoia donated $20,000 annually for several years to Fresh Future Farm’s operation, but he feels Metanoia needs some guarantees resale of Fresh Future Farm won’t create an expensive proposition for the CDC. Metanoia’s asking Fresh Future Farm to give it first crack at buying the land should the FFF decide to sell.
The land is located in a transitioning community where land costs likely will be impacted by the adjacent development of a new S.C. State Port Authority facility at the former Charleston Naval Base. Once its contract with the city is consummated Metanoia says it will offer Fresh Future Farm its parcel for about $43,000 on condition it can buy back the land at 110 percent of the sale price should FFF sell the land in the future. Potentially the land could be worth exponentially more.
July 11 Stanfield wrote, “This past Thursday evening we found out we are going to have to pause any efforts to start renovating the old school this year which means that we will not be in any position to have any role between the farm and the City of North Charleston in their attempts to purchase their land. In short we are no longer in the middle of the firestorm they created on social media.”
One city official said while FFF used the current atmosphere of racial protest to promote its agenda the possibility exists the city could sell the land to FFF. Jenkins would not comment for this story.