Jenkins has leased land for Fresh Future Farm in North Charleston since 2014 | Ruta Smith

Room to Grow 

 Fresh Future Farm deserves a deal to buy its land. The city of North Charleston must do everything it can to make it happen. There’s no more time for stalling or excuses. As we’ve been saying for nearly a year: Give Fresh Future Farm a clear path forward to continue its work in the community. Sell the land.

North Charleston City Council took an encouraging step forward last week by subdividing the property that Fresh Future Farm (FFF) has been leasing since 2014 away from the larger property being sold to Metanoia. This makes way for the farm to negotiate the acquisition of its property directly from the city. An earlier arrangement would have had FFF brokering a deal with Metanoia as it works on renovating the historic school buildings next door. But, that has taken way too long.

City officials are right to applaud the work of Fresh Future Farm and Metanoia. The new, less-complicated arrangement has the potential to be better for all parties involved, enabling the nonprofits to expand their work as gentrification forces zero in on the low-income Chicora-Cherokee community.

Throughout the pandemic, Fresh Future Farm and its co-founder Germaine Jenkins have continued to service the group’s mission of expanding access to fresh foods, delivering groceries and serving meals to people in need.

In fact, FFF’s pioneering work is more relevant now than ever, and people are taking notice. In 2019, Jenkins was listed on Essence magazine’s “Woke 100” alongside the likes of former First Lady Michelle Obama. As the chairperson for the S.C. Black Farmers Conference, Jenkins has taken the lead on public discussions about national issues of land justice and food security.

North Charleston is lucky to have Jenkins and Fresh Future Farm.

But even with generous local support, Jenkins said it’s been difficult to earn the trust of South Carolina institutions.

“Outside of the state, people celebrate our work; it’s ‘groundbreaking;’ nobody’s doing what we’re doing … And here, I can’t get $2,000 without signing my life away,” she told us last year.

North Charleston officials have long talked about cultivating growth in the southern end of the city near FFF. Despite all that talk and despite personal assurances by the mayor and others, the area has been a food desert for nearly a decade now. There may not be a major grocery store, but there is Fresh Future Farm. The city has provided generous lease terms for the farm until now, but it’s time to let it grow to its full potential.

As one of the state’s largest local governments, North Charleston is well-resourced to make the FFF sale happen. Just look at the rest of the Finance Committee agenda last week: At the same meeting, city officials gave initial approval to the $1.69 million sale of land to Water Mission on the old Navy base. It approved a tax increment finance district that will generate more than $10 million from development over the next decade. And it gave initial sign-off on the $205,000 sale of the old Chicora Elementary to Metanoia. FFF should be next in line.

It’s past time to sell Fresh Future Farm its land. No strings attached.