Fresh Future Farm reopened its sliding-scale USDA grocery store to the public Wednesday after closing and emptying shelves at the start of quarantine in March.
Store manager Tamazha Pilson developed safety procedures to protect those customers and staff. Service will be provided outside at the 2008 Success St. store. Customers must wear a face mask and maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance.
The farm team set up outdoor seating and will take orders on the deck while packing bags inside and taking payments. Staff will also wear masks and keep the store and hands sanitized throughout the day, according to a press release.
While the store was closed, the folks at Fresh Future Farm said they stayed busy, making deliveries that included fresh produce, prepared dishes, protective equipment, hurricane kits and more.
“Our mission is to grow the quality of life our neighbors deserve, and we mean it,” FFF co-founder Germaine Jenkins said in a press release. “Customers kept telling us they miss the store and look forward to it
reopening soon. We pivoted from a paid grocery delivery plan after assessing the physical wear and tear on staff members after the 6-month rapid response program.”
The farm offered groceries at a 100 percent discount with grants from SVP Charleston, Two Rivers Church and individual donations. The farm also provided more than $8,000 in rent and utility assistance to Chicora-Cherokee residents through donations from Giving Tuesday Now and funding from the Lowcountry Mutual Aid Fund.
Fresh Future Farm has raised money and worked over the past year to purchase its property from the city of North Charleston and community development nonprofit Metanoia. But a fire at the nearby Chicora Elementary School earlier this year triggered insurance talks that have delayed those transactions. (Under the terms of the original deal, Metanoia would acquire the school and adjoining properties, including the farm, which could be subdivided after the sale.) Fresh Future Farm is currently on a month-to-month lease until details are worked out, according to city of North Charleston Project Manager Adam MacConnell.
The store reopened Oct. 14 and will be open Wednesdays 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Fridays 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.