Common Ground Producers and Growers

Organization: Common Ground Producers and Growers

Specific Program or Initiative within the organization being nominated, if applicable: Common Ground Mobile Market and Mobile Food Hub


2430 E. 33rd Street North

Wichita, Kansas, 67219
United States

Nominated By: Miranda Miller-Klugesherz, Kansas Food Action Network,

How did you hear about the H2HC prizes? Newsletter/Email
Please specify: National Association of Chronic Disease Directors

1. How does the organization/program/initiative focus on food and/or nutrition challenges? How does the approach address upstream root causes and systemic factors that contribute to health inequities?
Led by Wichita’s most prominent urban black farming family, Common Ground’s Mobile Market and Mobile Food Hub has reshaped the food access landscape in historically underserved areas across Kansas. Their process, developed over the past decade, features a two-pronged approach that grows the local farming economy while simultaneously addressing the systemic lack of access to healthy foods:
1) Grow the local farm economy by paying an equitable wage to specialty crop growers, and by reducing farmer food miles by aggregating food at a central location.
2) Common Ground increases access to local foods through the dignity of a personal choice mobile farmers market. Moreover, they offer farmer training programs that equip residents with the tools and knowledge necessary to grow their own food in any size space, reducing their reliance on an unjust food system.
Common Ground’s services are focused in historically underserved areas and communities facing persistent poverty across Kansas.

2. How does the work reach across established disciplines to catalyze new collaborations and create effective systems and outcomes?
Common Ground transcends established disciplines by enhancing the visibility and impact of black BIPOC growers in Kansas. They are involved in local, state, and national collaborative efforts. CEO Donna Pearson McClish serves as a delegate and policy member with the National Farmers Union, sits on the board of the Kansas Farmers Union, is a member of the national Producer Safety Fellows program; and was appointed to the Kansas State Board of Agriculture by Governor Laura Kelly.
Additionally, initiatives such as their H.E.A.R.T Initiative (Healthy Environments Activating Regenerative Transformations) captures effective systems and outcomes. They integrate health and wellness programs into their initiatives, such as the Food Is Medicine collaborative, which educates the community on the importance of healthy eating and provides resources to improve overall well-being. Common Ground partners with local businesses and non-profit organizations to leverage existing resources and networks.

3. Describe how the work of the organization/program/initiative could be scaled regionally or nationally.
Their existing training modules can be tailored to meet different regions and communities’ unique needs. Implementing a train-the-trainer model has proven to empower local leaders and organizations to replicate the successful programs within their communities. Comprehensive documentation of best practices, case studies, and lessons learned will serve as a blueprint for other organizations.
Starting with pilot programs in select regions, they propose gathering feedback and refining their approach before scaling up. Partnering with local community-based organizations, government agencies, and foundations will provide insights into regional needs and leverage existing networks for broader reach. Additionally, joining or forming national networks and coalitions focused on urban agriculture, health equity, and environmental justice will facilitate knowledge sharing, advocacy, and coordinated efforts. Funding from diverse sources – private and public – can support these initiatives.

4. Describe how the work of the organization/program/initiative could be replicated in other communities.
Common Ground’s model is easily replicable in communities across the US. While the organization is happy to provide a set of standard operational guidelines and best practices for the technical aspects of urban growing and mobile food hub development, they maintain that authentic community engagement has been their ultimate secret to success. Recognizing that each community is unique, the project model is adaptable to fit local contexts. Practices such as involving residents from the initial planning stages to ensure the project is designed to meet their needs, implementing outreach programs and educational workshops tailored to reflect the unique cultural and social dynamics of each community; and establishing strong, community-wide partnerships are easily replicable in communities across the country to create a widespread network of urban farms, community gardens, and small-scale and large-scale growers that enhance food security, promote sustainability, and support local economies.

5. Please provide evidence of how the work of the organization/program/initiative is sustainable in the long term.
Common Ground has established robust partnerships with local, state, and national organizations, government entities, and private foundations, all of which provide ongoing support, resources, and advocacy power to enhance the sustainability of their initiatives. They have a demonstrated ability to attract and manage diverse funding sources. Additionally, their active engagement in policy advocacy at local, state, and national levels creates an enabling environment by influencing policies that support urban agriculture, health equity, and environmental justice to ensure long-term systemic change. By taking on advisory roles in governmental and non-governmental bodies, they shape policies and practices to support our initiatives within broader institutional frameworks. Moreover, their work is deeply rooted in communities, ensuring that programs are tailored to local needs and supported by community members, fostering ownership and long-term commitment.

6. Please provide measurable evidence of the organization/program/initiative’s impact on the community or individuals served.
Common Ground surpasses any other local food aid program in the state. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Common Ground supplied communities in Kansas with more than a million pounds of food in family food boxes. In the last year alone, they have increased their food production by 25%, producing more than 35,000 pounds of fresh produce, directly supplying urban and rural underserved communities. Their sustainable and regenerative workshops have engaged more than 250 farmers and small-scale growers, and participant surveys indicated a 90% satisfaction rate and a significant increase in knowledge and skills. Common Ground’s distribution efforts reached more than 5,000 households, improving access to healthy food options for low-income families. Additionally, there has been more than a 218% increase in Senior Market Voucher use since the inception of the mobile market and mobile food hub. Moreover, their farmer network has expanded to more than 35 local growers.

7. Please describe specifically how the prize monies would be used to further the work of the organization/program/initiative.
The Common Ground Mobile Market and Mobile Food Hub plans to invest in building and upgrading urban farms, community gardens, and greenhouses (high tunnels) to increase food production capacity. To achieve this, they will develop and conduct educational workshops focused on sustainable farming practices, nutrition, and food security. Additionally, they plan to purchase advanced agricultural tools and technology to improve efficiency and yield in urban farming practices.

Community engagement is vital for the success and sustainability of their work. In each location, Common Ground intends to allocate funds to conduct outreach programs, community meetings, and educational workshops to involve residents in the project’s development and ongoing activities. This approach will foster community ownership and support, enhancing the project’s impact and relevance.

Proof of 501(c)3 status or affiliation