Each year Cultivate KC provides local farmers and growers with grants to improve their infrastructure. Thanks to generous donors like you, Cultivate KC awards nearly $20,000 annually so that local farmers can expand their capacity in the community.
Last year, one of those grant recipients was Dang’s Gardening, a farm run by Zabeth Chang and her family. Zabeth’s farm was awarded $3,000 to install a cooler on her farm. Before this, she and her family used air conditioning units to try to keep temps lower for storage, which could result in the loss of a lot of product.
A cooler was the difference between being able to store product for a few days versus several weeks.
“Our tomatoes would rot,” she said. “Now that we have them [the coolers], we don’t have to worry, ‘Am I going to make it the next couple of days to market?'”
In addition to extending the life of the flowers and vegetables she is able to sell, the coolers allow Zabeth a chance to try growing different types of vegetables and innovate her farming business.
A fashion marketing major from the Art Institute of Charlotte (N.C.), Zabeth applies what she learned in school and from working in corporate offices in New York City to her new trade while also utilizing her creative spirit.
Farming is different than any other job she has had, she says, but by far the most rewarding.
“Everyday is a different day,” she said. “I get to interact with customers. I get to spend time with myself. I get to work on planting. I get to meet different people and work alongside awesome vendors.”
The cooler also gives her the capacity to store her surplus, which she donates to local food kitchens and agencies that serve the community.
Zabeth plans to improve irrigation on her 5-acre farm next. That too, she says, will be difficult and not just from cost.
“My next grant application will be for a water system,” she said. “It’s hard because most of our profit comes from flowers. We grow vegetables but it’s hard. We’re trying to distinguish ourselves, but it’s hard with vegetables.”