Nonprofit Celebrates One-Year Milestone with Over $2 Million Distributed to Georgia BIPOC and Women-Owned Farms

Georgia’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Program (LFPA) and Nonprofit The Common Market Southeast Cultivates Farmer Growth and Expands Food Access

Beginning last November, The Common Market Southeast, a nonprofit local food distributor based in East Point, distributed more than $2 million to support the expansion of small, local Black Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)-owned and women-owned farms through Georgia's Local Food Purchase Assistance Program (LFPA).

This initiative aims to facilitate farms’ scaling efforts, enabling them to supply food to major institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities, and large-scale government contracts.

In 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture’s LFPA program allocated $23 million to Georgia as a way to support local, regional, and underserved producers, and increase healthy food access for communities in need.

The Common Market Southeast administers a portion of these funds, managing a $4 million procurement contract to support purchases from Georgia-based producers. As the Georgia LFPA program's designated specialty produce distribution partner, it delivers locally grown fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts, and other fresh offerings directly to eight food banks serving the state.

Bill Green, Executive Director of The Common Market Southeast, emphasized the program's alignment with USDA initiatives: "This program builds on the work begun during the USDA's pandemic-era contracts to engage historically underserved producers, promoting sustainability and equity in local food systems while delivering fresh, ecologically-responsible produce to communities."

The program's next phase aligns with the Georgia Department of Agriculture's objective to enhance efficiency from farm to institutions in the state, particularly focusing on schools and hospitals within the region.

Christopher Drayton, District Manager of Collegiate Hospitality with Aramark, expressed their commitment to forward purchasing from BIPOC farmers, aiming to increase participation, dollars spent on goods from BIPOC farmers, and market diversity for culturally distinct ingredients.

To stimulate demand and aid growers in meeting it, The Common Market Southeast launched the Georgia ACRE Collective through funding from The Rockefeller Foundation. This collective unites organizations with a shared vision for vibrant and equitable regional food systems.

Leveraging this investment, the ACRE Collective supports institutions in making purchases that prioritize values (like climate, equity and diversity) beyond cost in metro Atlanta while investing in farm-side infrastructure and training to enhance the capacity of historically underserved farmers.

Local Lands, a Black-owned, family-operated, pasture-raised cattle and poultry farm in Milner, GA, has seen a 400% growth in commitments with support from both the Georgia LFPA program and the ACRE Collective. The farm has scaled capacity this year, increasing its roughly 400 dozen eggs a week production to 2,000 due to its relationship with The Common Market Southeast. They recently expanded land access by 90 acres to fulfill larger institutional commitments with the support of The Conservation Fund—an ACRE Collective member that focuses in part on protecting at-risk farmland across the Atlanta metro region, and creating opportunities for ambitious, diverse farmers.

“This past year has been very, very good for us,” explained Asa Ysrael, head farmer at Local Lands, about their relationship with The Common Market. “The LFPA program has allowed us to scale up. It gives us security, so we don’t have to worry about if the product gets sold. We can focus on other variables that aren’t controllable. I’m happy about that.”

Through LFPA, The Common Market Southeast has generated significant sales opportunities for growers, empowering them to reinvest in operations and local communities. Impactful success stories include Starlit Roots Farms, an organic vegetable farm in Keysville, GA; Snapfinger Farms in Stockbridge, GA; and Green Box Mushrooms in Alpharetta, GA.

Tianna Rose Neal, owner of Starlit Roots Farms, shared, "Working with The Common Market [Southeast] through LFPA opened up a new door for me. I always thought wholesale production seemed out of reach for a small farmer like myself."

This year, approximately 12 universities, healthcare sites, and corporate cafeterias, including Emory University Hospital, Agnes Scott College, Morehouse College, Google, and Northside Hospitals in Atlanta and Cherokee County, have committed nearly $400,000 in purchases from LFPA farms.

Bill Green added, "Historically underserved farmers have long been excluded from wholesale opportunities. Now, through programs like LFPA and with support from organizations in the ACRE Collective, these farms are empowered to participate, grow, and sustain their businesses."

Local Lands Family Small
Local Lands, a Black-owned, pasture-raised cattle and poultry farm in Milner, GA, has seen a 400% growth in commitments.