Monday, October 26, 2009

Tim Will's $100K idea

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Help farmers help themselves. Simple.

Charged with growing entrepreneurs in rural Rutherford County, Tim Will surveyed foothills numbed by 14 percent unemployment and illiteracy and limited by few high-speed links to the global marketplace.

But one other statistic caught the newcomer's eye: the county's 6,000 small plots of land, much of it overgrown former farmland.

What if played-out cotton fields, Will wondered, grew fruits and vegetables again? And what if the produce was marketed online to Charlotte restaurants hungry for locally raised foods?

The result is Farmers Fresh Market, now ending its third year. Charlotte chefs log on to its Web site, clicking on the purple potatoes or haricot verts that please them. The produce is delivered to their kitchens within 24 hours of harvest.

This year, 87 Rutherford growers marketed their produce that way.

A San Francisco think tank, Civic Ventures, got wind of the market, which is believed to be the only one of its kind in North Carolina. Each year Civic Ventures awards "Purpose Prize" to social innovators over 60 who do good things in their "encore" careers.

That's why, today, Tim Will is $100,000 richer.

"Getting change, getting things done, that's what's important to me and my wife," he said. "It's not my money. The community has earned it."

So he will give his $100,000 prize to the farm program.

Read the entire article at CharlotteObserver.com.

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