Grantee Blog

Turning Promise Agriculture and Local Produce into Farm Fresh Products!

This Fall, Elijah’s Promise is beginning to implement a new program in partnership with the USDA and Rutgers University to create value-added products from locally-grown produce. This new endeavor will provide local farmers with the opportunity to sell canned goods made from their own harvest while also generating employment opportunities for chefs through Elijah’s Promise.

So far, three local farms, as well as our own Promise High Tunnel urban agriculture site have agreed to participate in the program by providing fresh produce. Two chefs, both of whom are former Promise Culinary students, have come on board to process and jar the food. They have also taken the initiative of developing recipes for the products based on the pallets of both the local New Brunswick community and the communities where the farms are located. So far, the chefs have made two delicious products: tomato sauce and pickled peppers. Using peppers grown right in New Brunswick, and by volunteers and programming supported by the NJ Healthy Communities Network, we are able to explore what an urban agriculture social enterprise might look like in our community!

Part of our vision in this project is to help democratize the local food system. We do this by designing recipes based on input from the community purchasing the product at our Mercado Esperanza and other local farmer’s markets. We will conduct bilingual taste tests on our products so that our customers and neighbors can let us know whether the flavor profiles and ingredients are in sync with the cultures of the communities Elijah’s Promise serves. This project is an exciting way we are connecting community agriculture systems to economic development and healthy food access.

We also hope to contribute to the economic empowerment of the farmers and chefs involved by using the income generated by returning a portion of the product to the farms to sell and using the proceeds Elijah’s Promise generates to employ chefs from our community. The more farms that participate in this program, the greater the economic impact we can have on our community.

About the Grantee

Elijah’s Promise

Elijah’s Promise harnesses the power of food to break the cycle of poverty, alleviate hunger, and change lives. We fight to end hunger through serving good food for all at our community soup kitchen, providing education and jobs in the food industry through our Promise Culinary School, a community garden, community advocacy, and creating social enterprise food businesses that further social good.