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ASAP's 2023 Annual Report

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<strong>Annual</strong><br />

<strong>Report</strong><br />

<strong>2023</strong>


EXPAND<br />

Tomas C. Farms during ASAP’s annual Farm Tour.


Dear Friends,<br />

Thank you for supporting ASAP! As you read through this <strong>2023</strong><br />

<strong>Annual</strong> <strong>Report</strong>, you’ll see all the ways your contributions lead to a<br />

stronger, more resilient local food system.<br />

Over the past few years ASAP has grown our Farm Fresh for Health<br />

initiatives that link all aspects of our health—economic, physical,<br />

and social. You’ll read a story on the growth of our Farm Fresh<br />

Produce Prescription, which is gaining momentum similar to our<br />

popular Double SNAP for Fruits and Vegetables program. These<br />

programs are both a win-win for communities. They simultaneously<br />

feed our neighbors and support local farmers. They bring more<br />

community members to farmers markets and encourage eating<br />

more fresh fruits and vegetables. This has the potential to make us<br />

a healthier, happier community.<br />

ASAP has heard from our partners in the charitable food system<br />

that even though the worst days of the pandemic are behind us, the<br />

demand for food donations has increased. Our work implementing<br />

both the Prescription and Double SNAP programs in <strong>2023</strong> has<br />

prepared ASAP, in partnership with others, to meet this moment.<br />

In 2024, ASAP will begin to expand Double SNAP to all 23 counties of<br />

Western North Carolina across nearly 40 sites. To take the program<br />

to the next level, we are partnering with MountainWise and Blue<br />

Ridge Women in Agriculture to connect SNAP participants with<br />

fresh food in their communities. By combining efforts, we’ll deepen<br />

our impact.<br />

In <strong>2023</strong> and continuing into 2024, I’ve also witnessed the ways the<br />

legacy of our pandemic response program, Appalachian Farms<br />

Feeding Families (AFFF), has continued to provide families in need<br />

with fresh, local food. Through the Growing Minds program, we<br />

continue to support community connections. For example, Pam’s<br />

Child Development Center in Jackson County has continued working<br />

with Carringer Farms. ASAP paired them together in AFFF. Last year,<br />

the owner of the center, Pam Ashe, told us:<br />

“Many of our children sampled new foods prepared by family<br />

members. The children were encouraged to help pick out the fresh<br />

vegetables. It was a true pleasure to see young families taking<br />

home bags of fresh veggies. Each child knew exactly which tomato<br />

or cucumber, etc., they wanted.”<br />

By continuing to support connections like these, we are meeting<br />

our mission to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and<br />

supporters, and build healthy communities through connections<br />

to local food. Together, we are building a local food system that<br />

everyone can participate in.<br />

Together in service,<br />

Molly Nicholie<br />

Executive Director


INNOVATE<br />

Prescription shoppers at Asheville City Market.


Increase Access, Improve Health<br />

Farm Fresh Produce Prescription<br />

Growth<br />

“$40 in my pocket became health for me and my baby<br />

and then became income for farmers. And now I will be<br />

able to take my baby with me to the market.”<br />

In <strong>2023</strong>, ASAP’s Farm Fresh Produce Prescription program<br />

saw immense growth. Doctors, nurses, and community<br />

health workers can prescribe their patients or clients<br />

fresh fruits and vegetables that they can then redeem at<br />

participating markets. This incentive program, similar to<br />

Double SNAP, increases access and improves health.<br />

Lauren, a participant in the program, told us how good<br />

it felt to spend money with farmers. She was originally<br />

referred to the program when she was pregnant as one of<br />

several resources through the Nurse-Family Partnership.<br />

Lauren said the program was a game changer for her.<br />

She said she ate so much spinach when she was pregnant<br />

and that it was so nice to not be stressed about food cost<br />

during that time. Today, she says, “there are things we<br />

wouldn’t eat in our household without this program,”<br />

including leafy greens, bok choy, beans, and squash.<br />

Serving Diverse Populations<br />

The prescription program also serves another vulnerable<br />

population—seniors. Vance Goodman, Council on Aging’s<br />

Benefits Enrollment Specialist, worked with ASAP in<br />

<strong>2023</strong> to refer seniors to the program. For seniors, Vance<br />

says, the program gets participants to interface with<br />

other humans, visit with one another in shuttles from the<br />

senior housing complex, talk about recipes, and feel like<br />

they’re giving back to the community by spending food<br />

dollars with farmers.<br />

Vance told us that caregivers have also accessed the<br />

program, and when caregivers are taken care of, they’re<br />

better equipped to care for their loved ones.<br />

We heard more about the impact of the program on our<br />

senior community when speaking to Mo Hakala, the<br />

North Asheville Tailgate Market Assistant. Mo told us<br />

that in 2022, they’d see four to five people redeeming<br />

their prescription every week at the market. But in <strong>2023</strong>,<br />

this increased to 30 or more households weekly. The<br />

majority of people using the program at the market<br />

are seniors. Mo told us about a group of senior women<br />

who are the first customers to arrive at the market every<br />

Saturday morning. “They pick up tokens together and<br />

walk around the market together. They are not only<br />

happy to shop, but also happy to see friends.”<br />

Alternative Program Model<br />

In <strong>2023</strong>, ASAP also tested out another model of the<br />

program in Swain County, a more rural community<br />

without as easy to access farmers markets. This<br />

multi-farm CSA-style food box delivery model served<br />

50 families. ASAP worked in partnership with<br />

MountainWise, the Swain County Health Department,<br />

and EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems to offer<br />

participating families monthly gatherings with cooking<br />

demos, taste tests, family activities, and other resources<br />

like recipe cards and cooking equipment. In 2024,<br />

ASAP and project partners plan to expand this pilot to<br />

Swain and Macon counties with twice the number of<br />

participants over twice the amount of time.<br />

“It puts money<br />

in my hands<br />

and because it’s<br />

restricted to fruits<br />

and vegetables,<br />

it gives me only<br />

healthy choices.”<br />

Lauren, a participant in the program<br />

Farm Fresh tokens being used at a weekly Tailgate Market.


EXPERIENCE<br />

Local food taste test at Oakley Elementary School.


Positive Local Food<br />

Experiences<br />

Local Food Procurement in Schools<br />

In <strong>2023</strong>, ASAP made big strides to support local food<br />

procurement in school systems. Our Growing Minds<br />

Farm to School program staff worked closely with the<br />

school nutrition directors in Buncombe and Haywood<br />

Counties to make this happen. For Haywood County, an<br />

introduction was made to Pilot Mountain Pears. Nutrition<br />

Director Alison Frances told us that in <strong>2023</strong>:<br />

“Our kids absolutely love Asian pears. We’ve been getting<br />

them for the last few years, but not from Hendersonville.<br />

ASAP has provided us with great marketing tools to help<br />

us showcase the local farmers that we work with. We<br />

have posters in the cafeterias with farmer profiles. We<br />

put it on menus and share it on our Facebook page.”<br />

In Buncombe County, an introduction was made to<br />

TendWell Farm. Danielle Hutchison, farm owner and<br />

operator told us:<br />

“By providing nutritious options to the school system,<br />

we are not only supporting the health and well-being of<br />

students, but also fostering a connection to the land and<br />

the food we grow. It’s important to us because it allows<br />

us to contribute to the education and nourishment of the<br />

next generation while staying true to our commitment to<br />

produce organic food.”<br />

Local Food Taste Tests<br />

ASAP also successfully brought local food into schools<br />

in <strong>2023</strong> through cafeteria taste tests. ASAP staff led taste<br />

tests in school cafeterias and also provided schools<br />

with Meet Your Farmer banners and printed farmer<br />

profiles that could continue conversations between<br />

teachers and students back in the classroom. All schools<br />

that participated were introduced to the farmer who<br />

provided the produce for the taste test and that farmer<br />

plans to visit the school!<br />

Toward the end of <strong>2023</strong>, the Growing Minds staff visited<br />

Claxton Elementary School in Asheville. More than 350<br />

students, teachers, and staff taste tested a Triple Berry<br />

Kale Salad. The kale was purchased from R Farms in<br />

Weaverville, NC. At the taste test we heard students say:<br />

“This is the best kale ever. It’s better than dessert!”<br />

“I don’t like salad very often, but this is awesome!”<br />

Cooking and Growing<br />

in the Classroom<br />

In <strong>2023</strong>, Growing Minds staff also connected early<br />

childhood education centers to local farms. Farms<br />

provided education centers CSA (Community Supported<br />

Agriculture) boxes and the food was used for classroom<br />

cooking and also shared with the teachers and staff!<br />

ASAP also provided funding to support the purchase<br />

of equipment that could be used to prep food in the<br />

preschool classroom, along with other tools, resources,<br />

and experiences to support educators in implementing<br />

farm to school.<br />

“Selling our healthy, local<br />

organic produce to the<br />

Buncombe county school<br />

system is a meaningful<br />

opportunity for TendWell<br />

Farm. It aligns with our<br />

core mission of promoting<br />

sustainable, communitybased<br />

agriculture.”<br />

Danielle Hutchison, farm owner<br />

and operator<br />

Claxton Elementary School student tries kale.


CONNECT<br />

Danielle Keeter and Mark McDonagh hosting “Fun on the Farm.”


Farmers as Community Leaders<br />

Mighty Gnome Market Garden<br />

in Haywood County<br />

One way ASAP helps local farms thrive is by making<br />

community connections. In 2020, ASAP introduced<br />

Mighty Gnome Market Garden to Haywood Christian<br />

Ministry through the Appalachian Farms Feeding Families<br />

pandemic response program. This partnership continued<br />

into <strong>2023</strong> and is going strong. Farmers Danielle Keeter<br />

and Mark McDonagh told us that this connection gets<br />

at the heart of their farm’s mission—to provide locally<br />

grown, fresh, high-quality produce to their community.<br />

This partnership has meant so much to both parties<br />

that Danielle officially joined the board of Haywood<br />

Christian Ministry in the summer of <strong>2023</strong>, offering more<br />

opportunities to be a community leader and support the<br />

mission of a nonprofit that does so much for residents of<br />

Haywood County.<br />

ASAP staff also helped foster a connection between<br />

Mighty Gnome and the Haywood Historic Farmers<br />

Market. These relationships prompted Mark and Danielle<br />

to purchase land and farm in Haywood County—and, in<br />

<strong>2023</strong>, Mark and Danielle participated in another mutual<br />

aid project to help feed members of their newfound<br />

community.<br />

Farm to School Engagement<br />

Based on their demonstrated leadership in the<br />

community, in <strong>2023</strong>, ASAP’s Growing Minds program<br />

collaborated with Mighty Gnome in several new ways.<br />

Mighty Gnome hosted a “Fun on the Farm” day with staff<br />

from Mountain Projects who serve children in Head Start<br />

centers and filmed a “Meet Your Farmer” video as part of<br />

farm to preschool curriculum. During Fun on the Farm,<br />

preschool educators got to experience team-building<br />

activities, time outdoors learning about the farm, as<br />

well as farm to preschool books and activities that<br />

they could take back to their centers. Laura Passamore,<br />

the Health, Nutrition, and Disabilities Coordinator for<br />

Mountain Projects told us, “The staff have used the<br />

books they received in their classrooms. Our Human<br />

Resources Director that was there even brought back<br />

the smoothie recipe and shared it with all staff of<br />

Mountain Projects.”<br />

Workplace CSA Success<br />

<strong>2023</strong> also represented year four of a partnership with<br />

the City of Asheville that ASAP helped foster. City staff<br />

can sign up to participate in a workplace CSA with<br />

Mighty Gnome. Mark and Danielle collaborated with<br />

the city’s sustainability office to make this happen.<br />

Scott, a participant and city staffer told us:<br />

“Our workplace CSA program makes it so easy to access<br />

healthy delicious produce. With automatic payroll<br />

deduction through my employer, the fresh boxes of<br />

produce simply arrive each week throughout the<br />

season. Our farmer friends at Mighty Gnome keep us<br />

updated each week with details on the deliveries and<br />

new recipes to try out!”<br />

Kiera Bulan, with the City’s Sustainability Department<br />

said: “By hosting a delivery site, supporting promotions<br />

and communications, and offering automatic payroll<br />

deduction, the City is modeling ways to remove barriers<br />

to eating healthy and supporting local businesses.”<br />

“We’re grateful to Mark<br />

and Danielle for their<br />

tireless work growing<br />

top quality produce<br />

and their ongoing<br />

collaboration to bring<br />

this fresh food to<br />

City employees and<br />

residents.”<br />

Kiera Bulan, Sustainability Program<br />

Manager, City of Asheville<br />

Mighty Gnome Market Garden CSA box.


<strong>2023</strong> Impact<br />

Farmers Markets<br />

Farmer Support<br />

835+<br />

100+<br />

farms participated in the Appalachian Grown<br />

certification and branding program.<br />

farmers were assisted through individualized<br />

marketing support, working groups, and oneon-one<br />

assistance.<br />

100+<br />

1,250+<br />

farmers markets received assistance from<br />

ASAP in the form of marketing, community<br />

engagement activities, promotional materials,<br />

and planning support.<br />

SNAP households participated in the Double<br />

SNAP for Fruits and Vegetables program.<br />

$114,453 in SNAP was doubled across 9<br />

farmers markets.<br />

200+<br />

450+<br />

farmers attended trainings and workshops<br />

hosted by ASAP.<br />

retail locations, restaurants, and institutions<br />

partnered with Appalachian Grown farms in<br />

sourcing local.<br />

450+<br />

households participated in the Farm Fresh<br />

Produce Prescription program. $173,142 in<br />

prescriptions was redeemed across 13<br />

farmers markets.<br />

Growing Minds Farm to School<br />

Community Engagement<br />

Nearly<br />

2,500<br />

community members were engaged<br />

in-person through ASAP’s Farm Tour<br />

and CSA Fair.<br />

20,000+<br />

1,000+<br />

$49,000+<br />

preschool through high school students<br />

benefited from farm to school activities<br />

and resources.<br />

educators trained and/or provided<br />

resources for farm to school<br />

programming.<br />

in mini-grants distributed to 75 early<br />

childhood education centers, schools,<br />

and community organizations.


Revenue<br />

83%<br />

RESTRICTED<br />

FUNDS<br />

Expense<br />

84%<br />

PROGRAM<br />

EXPENSES<br />

2 MILLION+ ANNUAL REVENUE<br />

17%<br />

UNRESTRICTED<br />

FUNDS<br />

Restricted Funds<br />

52% Government grants<br />

36% Private foundations<br />

12% Individual donations<br />

Unrestricted Funds<br />

52% Donations & sponsorships<br />

48% Program income<br />

1.75 MILLION+ ANNUAL EXPENSES<br />

13%<br />

OPERATIONAL<br />

EXPENSES<br />

3%<br />

RESOURCE<br />

DEVELOPMENT<br />

Program Expenses<br />

74% Local Food Campaign<br />

22% Growing Minds<br />

4% Local Food Research Center<br />

Leading the Way<br />

CURRENT BOARD OF DIRECTORS<br />

CARRIE KELLER<br />

President<br />

WENDY BRUGH<br />

Vice President<br />

NILOFER COUTURE<br />

Secretary<br />

FRANCISCO CASTELBLANCO<br />

Treasurer<br />

Making It Happen<br />

CURRENT ASAP STAFF<br />

REI ARGEROPLOS<br />

Farm Fresh for Health Program<br />

Coordinator<br />

EMORY BRANDON<br />

Graphic Design Coordinator<br />

BRITT GARRETT<br />

Finance Coordinator<br />

SARAH HART<br />

Communications and Engagement<br />

Director<br />

SIGRID JENSENOYASKI<br />

Local Food Campaign Program<br />

Coordinator<br />

MELINDA LEQUIN<br />

Finance Director<br />

AMY MARION<br />

Associate Director<br />

MIKE MCCREARY<br />

Farmers Market Program Director<br />

SARAH MINTER<br />

Local Food Campaign Program<br />

Coordinator<br />

MOLLY NICHOLIE<br />

Executive Director<br />

BILL DURR<br />

CRAIG MAUNEY<br />

LISA C. PAYNE<br />

MARY WALSH<br />

MADELEINE O’TOOLE<br />

Market and Events Coordinator<br />

SUZI PALLADINO<br />

Growing Minds Program Coordinator<br />

JESSICA RUIZ<br />

Community Research Coordinator<br />

DANIELLE RAUCHEISEN<br />

Growing Minds Program Director<br />

NORA SCHEFF<br />

Development Director<br />

DAVID SMILEY<br />

Local Food Campaign Program<br />

Director<br />

CALEB THOMASON<br />

Farm Fresh for Health Program<br />

Manager<br />

DEBBI TIMSON<br />

Growing Minds Program Coordinator


Help us continue our work<br />

by making a donation.<br />

306 WEST HAYWOOD STREET, ASHEVILLE, NC 28801<br />

asapconnections.org | 828-236-1282

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