Social enterprise brings excess produce to Bryn Mawr

Barbara Fuller (left) and University of St. Thomas student Jadea Conway work at a farm stand operated by BrightSide Produce, a University of St. Thomas-based social enterprise. Photo courtesy BrightSide Produce
Barbara Fuller (left) and University of St. Thomas student Jadea Conway work at a farm stand operated by BrightSide Produce, a University of St. Thomas-based social enterprise. Photo courtesy BrightSide Produce

A University of St. Thomas-based social enterprise will sell produce in Bryn Mawr this summer to sustain its work of providing produce to corner stores.

BrightSide Produce, a collaboration between the University of St. Thomas and St. Paul-based Community Table Co-op, will sell bundles of produce to Bryn Mawr residents. The organization will use those sales in part to sustain farm stands it will host outside of corner stores in Minneapolis.

The organization will host its first farm stand the week of July 4. It will host them weekly throughout the summer in parts of North and South Minneapolis, with St. Thomas students and local youth staffing the tables.

BrightSide already provides produce to about two dozen corner stores in North Minneapolis, according to business manager Nicole Herrli, a St. Thomas student.

BrightSide co-founder Adam Pruitt said the farm stands could help build consumer confidence in those products.

“It encourages more people to know that this produce isn’t just something that’s been sitting here since last Thursday,” he said. “It’s taken care of by people who know what they’re doing.”

Pruitt, 19, co-founded the organization about three years ago, along with another young North Side resident, a St. Thomas professor and a St. Thomas student. The goal was to provide fresh produce to corner stores, where it had been impractical for the owners to stock fresh produce. The city’s staple foods ordinance requires corner stores to stock a minimum amount and variety of staple foods, including perishable produce.

“With our model, they can get whatever they want,” Herrli said.

The founders began buying produce from a wholesale distributor and enlisting the help of St. Thomas students and local youth to deliver it to the corner stores. They sold the leftover produce to members of the St. Thomas community to ensure the program could sustain itself.

BrightSide is using the same model with its farm stands, selling the leftover produce to neighborhoods in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. They’ll sell conventional produce at the stands, as well as organic produce from a farm in Wisconsin. The students harvest produce from that farm themselves.

The organization has about 15 Bryn Mawr residents signed up to receive bundles this summer. Visit brightsideproduce.org to learn more.

Browse

More in Green Digest