Urban Farm

Get farm-fresh produce grown right here at the Urban Farm at Aldersgate

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any retirement community with its own 6.7-acre urban farm, growing fresh produce for both the local community and our residents.

That’s the vision behind the Aldersgate and Carolina Farm Trust collaboration. This agricultural-led initiative is all part of the exciting resurgence of Charlotte’s east side. The non-profit Urban Farm at Aldersgate serves as a food source—and learning lab—for the eastside community and beyond. Eventually, we hope to offer therapeutic horticulture for our assisted living and memory care residents.

Taking care of our neighbors

Aldersgate leaders envision it as a place where residents of East Charlotte, NoDa and Plaza Midwood will come to shop; as a learning lab for nine CMS Title I schools (where students will learn about farming and see where their food comes from); and as a resource for the broader Charlotte region. Eventually, the farm will provide weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes of produce, eggs and meats for those who choose to join and pre-order.

“Part of our mission at Aldersgate is taking care of our neighbors,” stated an Aldersgate representative. “Access to fresh, healthy food should be a given for everyone in our community. But in some parts of the east side, people are living in a food desert. That’s not acceptable to us. Eating fresh, local food should not be a privilege that comes with social standing. It’s a human right that has measurable health and economic benefits.”

Both Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be accepted, ensuring the working, year-round farm is truly a resource for all. Zack Wyatt, founder and executive director of Carolina Farm Trust, said, “Locally grown, whole food—the kind with little to no processing between where it’s grown and where it’s consumed—should not be out of reach for anyone living in a prosperous city like Charlotte. I’m excited to be part of a movement designed to make healthy food available to folks who may not be used to having access to it.”

How We Did It

Aldersgate bought the parcel of land adjacent to its campus in 2008. The continuing care retirement community will lease, for the next decade, all 6.7 acres of land for $1 a year to Carolina Farm Trust. The Farm Trust is responsible for farm management and operations and reports to Aldersgate’s board of directors.

The farm features an aquaponics system, mobile kitchen, beehives for pollination and a hoop house with produce for sale. It will differ from a traditional farmers market in that it will grow its own produce year-round and source other foods—meat and eggs, for instance—from farms within 100 miles of Aldersgate.

Carolina Farm Trust worked with Insight Architecture and general contractor G.L. Wilson to create a master plan that turned what used to be derelict tennis courts, pool and outbuildings into a working urban farm.

Urban farming | Aldersgate - A Non-profit Life Plan Community
Filling the Fresh Food Gap

The farm will be essential to life at Aldersgate. It will be the location of quarterly farm-to-table dinners and a source of fresh produce in Aldersgate’s culinary services. Residents who wish to volunteer at the urban farm will have that opportunity.

The farm plans to bring a mobile kitchen capable of supporting the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, select Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and other culinary services to host cooking demonstrations and farm-to-table events. Partnerships with other non-profits and health organizations will be an important part of the Urban Farm.

Since about 15 percent of Mecklenburg County residents live in poverty—with a high concentration in the East Charlotte area—and since 34 percent of Mecklenburg County children live in food-insecure homes, the need for a convenient, reliable source of fresh, healthy food is evident. The Urban Farm intends to fill that gap.

Wyatt, of Carolina Farm Trust, wants to ensure the farm provides what neighbors want. The initial planting will include a diverse group of staple crops—tomatoes, kale, spinach, cucumbers. Aldersgate leaders have said that the farm must provide culturally relevant offerings to eastside neighbors.

Farm-grown tomatoes | Aldersgate - A Non-profit Life Plan Community

“This is a culturally diverse neighborhood,” Wyatt said. “Residents may need ingredients that you don’t generally find in your supermarket. If customers tell me they want oxtail, I know a source where I can get it.”

The Urban Farm is part of Aldersgate’s Gateway Promise, the growth plan that maximizes the community’s campus and invigorates East Charlotte in a way that positively impacts youth, family and senior living.

Got Questions

Call our Chief Mission Advancement Officer at (704) 532-5333 or email Karen Gipson at [email protected] to make a donation.

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We’d love to send you more information about us or answer any questions you have. The more you learn about Aldersgate, the more you’ll want it to become your new home!

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