Urban Exodus Features: Robin Emmons

ROBIN EMMONS

FOUNDER & FARMER @ SOW MUCH GOOD

Charlotte, North Carolina

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To get to Robin Emmons’ farm headquarters for Sow Much Good, you drive through suburban sprawl, past fast food chains and strip malls until you reach a little brick building surrounded by trees, growing fields and chicken coops. Sow Much Good sticks out from its surroundings like a breath of fresh air. It was before the Spring thaw when Urban Exodus visited; activity on the farm was just getting moving and the fields were being prepped for early Spring crops. Sow Much Good is based in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Although the state is rich in agricultural production, many urban neighborhoods and rural towns in North Carolina are considered food deserts, with very limited access to affordable and healthy food. The mission statement for Sow Much Good is to 1) provide direct access to fresh, affordable food 2) educate and engage residents to adopt healthy eating habits 3) advocate for the right of every person to have real food security. After a successful 20-year career working in the financial industry, Robin Emmons felt a pull to leave and change the trajectory of her life. A week after leaving her job, she helped her brother get settled at a mental health facility. While being treated, she saw a rapid decline in her brother’s health due to the mostly canned and sugary food served at mealtime. An avid gardener, Robin decided to tear up her entire suburban backyard and expand her food production, donating all the produce she grew to the facility. Her brother’s health immediately improved and the seed was planted for Robin’s new passion and path in life. In 2008, Robin started the non-profit Sow Much Good. She wanted to use food as a vehicle to promote social justice on important issues, such as food access in marginalized communities. With her corporate background, Robin has used her diverse skillset and contacts to find eager corporate sponsors willing to donate supplies, farmland, and money to continue to expand the offerings and programs Sow Much Good provides to the greater Charlotte communities it serves. The demo kitchen was donated by Ikea, their tractors by John Deer, their two farms and even their vehicles were gifts from companies wanting to help this important cause. The non-profit now runs a variety of programs including a low-income EBT CSA, summer camps, financial wellness workshops, cooking demos, free lunches for kids when school is not in session and farm stands in underserved areas that provide both fresh, affordable produce and plant starters to encourage people to grow their own food. Nothing goes to waste at Sow Much Good, even a fallen tree from a winter storm waits for the portable sawmill to arrive to turn its trunk into large banquet tables for their farm dinners, summer camps, lunch programs and workshops. Robin’s work has received a lot of press attention and in 2013 she was named a CNN Hero. She uses her media attention, speaking opportunities and workshops to continue to raise awareness about the inequities in our food system that eliminate the basic human right of access to clean and healthy food. Her future plans are to expand to more underserved areas and to create a playbook for other non-profits to mimic Sow Much Good’s model. To see what this passionate woman has been able to create in less than a decade, there is no telling how far she will go in making a difference in the lives of people who would otherwise not have access to fresh, healthy food. Robin Emmons truly is a farming hero. 

(Click here to jump to her interview)

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