Plant It Forward Farms, based in the Brays Oaks District, has long been known for its weekly boxes of fresh, local produce through its Farm Share program, which you can pick up at a number of locations around the city.
In October, the nonprofit began offering a new way to connect a diverse group of food producers with the public in a more “shelf-stable” way. Plant It Forward’s Cupboard Share brings the best from local makers to your pantry each month.
Every Cupboard Share contains a curated assortment of unique and gourmet dry goods such as pickles, jams, flours, grains, nuts, spices, sauces, syrups, tea and coffee, fresh-baked bread, pastries and more. All items are made or sourced locally by featured Houston-area chefs and artisans, using local ingredients whenever possible, including ingredients grown by Plant It Forward farmers.
Each Cupboard Share consists of six to eight shelf-stable items at a cost of $45 for the box. All products are vegetarian or vegan, and the share is scheduled during the second full week of each month.
In the inaugural Cupboard Share in October, which we decided to sample, subscribers received:
- a salsa macha prepared by Chef Ale of Kuri Market, a third-generation Lebanese, born and raised in Mexico City and living in Houston. (We enjoyed this nutty and yummy salsa with chips and also on bison meat tacos, which featured another Cupboard Share item listed below.)
- a Thai Spice Rub prepared by Chef Evelyn Garcia, who cooked as Chef in Residency at Decatur Bar before choosing to take her Southeast Asian concept at KIN at Politan Row. (Chef’s spice rub was amazing on grilled chicken).
- Trini Pepper Sauce, a fifth-generation family hot sauce recipe by Chef Keisha Griggs from Trinidad & Tobago. (This added a solid kick to the grilled chicken above for those of us who love extra spice)!
- fresh Filipino soft buns by Chef Dalman of Panaderya Salvaje, a start-up artisanal bakery with a focus on organic, naturally leavened Filipino breads and pastries. Chef Dalman hails from Mindanao, The Philippines. (His six pack of tasty Pastel de Camiguín was gone within 24 hours at our house).
- seasonal tea blended by Connie Lacobie, born in British Hong Kong, at Té House of Tea. (The ample bag of African Night Black Tea has an amazing natural mango and coconut flavor and is perfect sipped on the porch on a cooler day).
- fresh corn tortillas made by Chef Chavez at TATEMO. Emmanuel Chavez was born in Mexico City. His family migrated to Houston when he was 10. (The tortillas made with heirloom corn tortillas were incredibly fresh and delicious and great vessels for the salsa macha and meat).
Needless to say, we recommend the Cupboard Share for a taste of not just Plant It Forward farms and Houston, but the world. In the Brays Oaks District area, you may get on a wait list for home delivery of the Cupboard Share or sign up for one of several pick up days/times at the PIF Warehouse, 4030 Willowbend Blvd. Other locations for pick up are also available around the city.
While it is likely too late to sign up for a November Cupboard Share, the December share will be here before you know it in mid-December.
Sign up now at: https://csa.farmigo.com/join/plantitforwardfarms/farmshare
Plant It Forward Farms also invites you to enjoy your own weekly box of fresh, local produce through the Farm Share program, which can be picked up at the same time as the Cupboard Share.
Plant It Forward Farms works with independent, professional farmers with refugee backgrounds. The organization’s model combines non-profit and for-profit business structures to advance local agriculture in the Houston region. Each small for-profit business in the PIF network is owned and operated by a new American farmer.
PIF was founded in 2011 by a family of philanthropic entrepreneurs — the O’Donnells — who wanted to enable the similarly entrepreneurial ambitions of refugees being resettled in Houston. Refugees with agricultural backgrounds are resettled here with few options for finding meaningful, dignified work that utilizes their crucial skill sets. In collaboration with U.S. Catholic Charities’ local refugee resettlement office and Urban Harvest, the family worked with a group of skilled Congolese refugees to craft an urban market farming project.
By 2015, there were nine farmers each earning a living by managing their own farming enterprise on approximately one-half acre each. In 2016, PIF was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s TV show, “Parts Unknown: Houston.”
Today they have 13 farmers operating on eight farms within the PIF network and two additional PIF alumni farmers own an independent farming partnership. PIF continues to actively work to increase farming opportunities for new Americans in the coming years.
Learn more: https://plantitforward.farm
— by Dorothy Puch Lillig