Feed & Seed is a unique nonprofit in Greenville, SC that seeks to reduce food waste while producing excellent products for consumers and giving access to food to families who live in a food desert in Greenville.
Feed & Seed, located in Judson Mill right off the edge of downtown Greenville, is home to a fairly unique operation that only opened last year. And they are in that exact location for a very good reason: because it’s a food desert.
Feed & Seed wears many hats and I’ll tell you why a visit to them is a delicious idea.
About Feed & Seed
Feed & Seed is a nonprofit located in the middle of a food desert in Greenville. The USDA defines a food desert as, “A tract in which at least 100 households are located more than one-half mile from the nearest supermarket and have no vehicle access; or at least 500 people, or 33 percent of the population, live more than 20 miles from the nearest supermarket, regardless of vehicle availability.”
There are more than 6,500 of them in the United States, including 21 in 14 different counties in South Carolina, according to the USDA. However, Feed & Seed is not a food bank but they certainly have in mind people in low-income areas who are struggling with food insecurity. The nonprofit went through miles of bureaucratic red tape to allow the use of SNAP (food stamps) to be used to buy their products.
They house a cafe where they sell local produce, meat, dairy, and their own housemade take-and-bake meals, as well as a cafe where you can order breakfast or lunch. I’ve had their Italian sub and wow, I’ve been dreaming of that deliciousness ever since.
They also work with local farmers to buy their produce and fruit, which is awesome because farmers often can only sell their goods on-site or during the farmers’ market season, which is only about a third of the year or even less sometimes. That’s a small window to stay in business.
Feed & Seed also hosts community events and has space for meetings, parties, or other gatherings.
Meeting the Needs of the Community
Feed & Seed saw the need for fresh produce and local food and was founded to fill the gap between the people who need that and the people who provide it. That’s the reason for the location they chose and the idea took off from there.
The nonprofit partners with several local farms and others in the area who grow and produce that nourishing healthy food that everyone needs but may not have access to. They do that by buying produce directly from farmers, processing it themselves, and selling it right at their store.
Feed & Seed also has a program for Oconee County and Pickens County called FoodShareSC where boxes of fresh produce are sold for $20 cash or $5 EBT. Pickup locations are in Easley, Clemson, and Seneca. These boxes are filled with 10-12 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables. Anyone can order a FoodShareSC box. In Greenville, Foodshare Greenville is run by Mill Village Farms.
Reducing Food Waste
You know how you have this grand idea of buying three heads of kale that you plan to cook the following week for your family and then, two weeks later remember it’s there and it really doesn’t look all that great? Or maybe you bought a bunch of peaches, put them in your refrigerator and found them a month later all moldy? OK, please tell me I’m not alone here. Americans waste an enormous amount of food. It’s truly awful and after I toured Feed & Seed, I was determined to make smarter choices in menu planning and remembering what I’ve bought and how to use it.
Feed & Seed steps in to help make sure that food waste doesn’t happen by buying produce, veggies, and fruit directly from farms and immediately making use of it so it doesn’t go bad.
Food banks are a necessary part of the community in Greenville but even they have limitations. With food banks, they often cannot keep enough fresh produce because they don’t have the necessary refrigeration and storage. At Feed & Seed, they have massive refrigerators plus have come up with ways to reduce food waste by freeze-drying and dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, which give them long-lasting staying power and significantly reduce food waste.
They also offer rental refrigeration to farmers who need a place to store extra goods. This is a huge service to smaller farms especially.
The Cafe & Store
Feed & Seed sells a huge variety of local goods from honey to jams to dairy to meat to produce to coffee. I could have spent a ton of money there!
I really like that the nonprofit has such a laser focus on local food. Honestly, it makes me feel good to buy something I know was grown or produced right here in the Upstate because it goes right back into our local community.
The one thing I didn’t try was their take-and-bake meals and soups. They looked so good and I saw some of the chefs preparing lasagna while I was there on a tour and it looked amazing. I did have an Italian sub and cookie and both were delicious. It’s obvious the chefs take pride in their dishes. You can even order online to save time.
For many families with single parents, making healthy meals is a huge challenge. It’s these families, especially that Feed & Seed had in mind when they started to offer their ready-made meals that people can purchase and take home and heat up in the oven or microwave. They are nutrient-dense and provide a healthy alternative to fast food. SNAP benefits can be used to pay for these.
Feed & Seed also sells local produce bags for $15, which you can buy anytime you’re over there. If you love a good CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Feed & Seed has a similar option with their Crop Box, which is a weekly box full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and produce that you can pick up once a week from March-May. It’s $30 or $45 per week depending on how big of a box you choose. This is a fantastic way to support local farmers.
As you may imagine, this operation requires a lot of effort and Feed & Seed needs a lot of volunteers to make their vision a reality.
Volunteers are needed to assist in packing boxes for their FoodShareSC program to feed families in need. You can see current volunteer opportunities on their website or sign up for their email newsletter to get all the information right to your inbox.
Volunteers must be 14 years old to give of their time at Feed & Seed and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult age 18+.
Besides the box packing, volunteers are needed on local farms that Feed & Seed works with, to help with tax preparation, and to assist with events.
Visiting Feed & Seed: Review
Obviously, Feed & Seed has a lot on their plate (no pun intended) and have chosen to tackle some pretty massive issues in the community. They truly hit the ground running when they opened and have only expanded as they have continued to seek to bring fresh food to everyone. Plus, they’ve got a really great thing going at their cafe and market, which I highly recommend you visit.
They are open Tuesday – Saturday 8 am – 5:30 pm. They serve breakfast those days from 8-11 am and then lunch is served 11 am – 2 pm.
Feed & Seed
701 Easley Bridge Road, Suite 6010, Greenville