As with many businesses, this one started with a dream. In the summer of 2016, a serendipitous connection was made between Jaimie Mudd, a current Earlham School of Religion student and the Wayne County Food Council. The mission of the council is “To equip communities to provide healthy, affordable, and nutritious food so that all Wayne County residents might have access regardless of economic means.” After many dedicated conversations it became clear that the Council could further its efforts by participating in the Earlham Prize for Creative Capitalism, “the business plan competition that helps students move their passions ideas, and ideals from theory to practice through the lens of social entrepreneurship and creative capitalism.”
On January 21st 2017 Know Hunger, Know More made its official debut. Its goal: create a comprehensive, sustainable, county wide compost collection system to sustain a wide variety of food security efforts. At the same time another dream was brewing: The Kitchen at The Greenhouse. Abby McCullough ’17 and Lily Fishleder ’17, both seniors at Earlham College envisioned a sustainable greenhouse and restaurant, where customers could take the concept “from farm to table” to the next level, with the “farm” being right next door. This educational environment would allow community member to gain an understanding of were their food came from and how it was prepared.
Both groups entered the Earlham Prize for Creative Capitalism, and Know Hunger, Know More moved into the second round, with Abby and Lily the newest members to help develop, promote, and articulate the business plan. With the concerted efforts of this new found team, they made it to the final round, taking third place. On April 8th 2018, Know Hunger Know More took 3rd Place and $1,500 of start-up capital to pursue compost. Since then, the team has grown and now sets out to tackle the following areas of food security in the county:
- A comprehensive compost system. Here is where the famed Compost extraordinaire Sean Andreas, of Rose City Compost, joined the team. He brings his composting expertise and we bring support for his business growth. He has recently started using a fermentation method known as the Bokashi Compost System, which allows for meat and dairy to be composted along with the more traditional leaves, paper, fruit and vegetables. One of the challenges he faces with this new development is the need for a drop site or two around town.
- A certified commercial grade community kitchen. This would allow local farmers market vendors to sell their products beyond the market, and even across state lines, since products like baked goods must be manufactured in a commercial kitchen to be sold outside of Indiana. Due to Richmond’s proximity to Ohio, this would be a valuable step for these vendors to expand their businesses. The community kitchen would also serve as a space for local food pantries to work with the public by providing free cooking classes, thereby amplifying the community’s food options.
- A community garden. This garden could function as a space for individuals without space on their own properties to grow some of their own food. Any extra produce could be given to the community kitchen, where it could become part of cooking classes, if not given directly to a food pantry. The garden space could potentially serve as a drop site for Sean’s compost too!
- Founding a Cooperative grocery store. Since the Marsh grocery store on the south side of town closed down, that area has officially become a food dessert. One of the biggest benefits of a grocery store that is cooperatively owned, is that the community members who shop there each have the chance to buy a membership. Benefits of membership include discounted pricing on food as well as a single vote on cooperative decisions. In a traditional co-op, since each member is only allowed one vote, this structure prohibits a buyout of the store if the majority of member-owners vote against selling or closing it. Thus, there is a greater chance that the store will continue to be able to provide fresh, healthy food to Richmond residents into the future.
Know Hunger Know More is a broad, wide ranging business that looks holistically at the local food system: from food production, to consumption, to waste and disposal. It aims to tackle all three of these areas simultaneously, with the understanding that the food system is a circular cycle that feeds back into itself.