Some people know of the Hampstead Community in Montgomery, but as for the Hampstead Institute, people connected to it admit its message as a sustainable, urban farm has been a bit confusing.
So now the nonprofit is changing its name to EAT South, which stands for educate, act and transform. Using its two urban farms, one in East Montgomery on Taylor Road, the other downtown behind the Montgomery Advertiser, EAT South will encourage the community to buy local produce, so people can eat healthier, fresher foods.
“Put it on the truck, it’s 10 days out until it gets there, it’s just going to lose flavor, so what we're trying to show people is that you can take one of these right of the vine, bite into it, and you're like wow, that's what a pepper tastes like, that tastes like its fresh,” said Chad Emerson, chairman of the board of directors of EAT South and Montgomery’s director of development.
Emerson says Hampstead Institute doesn't say "fresh and local food” but EAT South does. But for most people downtown, either name didn’t ring a bell, but once told about the farms, many said they would take advantage of EAT South in the spring.
“Maybe it will help people to want to eat healthier, and have access to it easier,” said Christina Golden of Montgomery.
EAT South says education is a primary focus of their mission, which is why they are reaching out to area schools and YMCA programs.
“If we teach these kids at their early years that fresh fruits and vegetables taste good, they're going to develop a lifetime habit of wanting fresh, healthy, fruits and vegetables,” Emerson said.
“Its great to sell to me, but if the kids don't get to come and see it, I think the mission is lost,” said Bob Parker, co-owner of the new Railyard Brewing Company. Parker also co-owns the Deli at the Alley Station and Dreamland BBQ, and all of his restaurants use EAT South produce in their daily meals.
“We'd like to see their production area grow so that we can buy almost all of our produce, at least seasonally from those guys,” Parker said.
From farm to fork, whether in restaurants or at your home, EAT South is trying to change the "fast-food" mindset, because Emerson says the cost is greater if you choose NOT to eat healthy.
“The time you invest in that will be the time you won’t spend at the doctor’s office or the dentist’s office because you did something different,” he said.
EAT South plans on expanding its downtown farm, by adding more gardens and classroom environments for students. Part of the education program will involve a fresh pizza assembly line, so kids can learn to grind their own wheat for the dough, pick out tomatoes for sauce and fruits and vegetables for toppings.
Available EAT South Produce:
Downtown Farm: Okra, Braising Mix, Salad Mix, Arugala, Sweet & Hot Peppers, Carrots, Green Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs
Taylor Road Farm (Hampstead): Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Collards and Radishes