The tropical atmosphere at Living Waters Farm Store Saturday was laid back and friendly as customers were welcomed by music and refreshments during the grand opening.
An educational outreach as much as a shopping experience, “Living Waters Farm Store is part of a public charity to support the Fresh Food For Children Project,” stated Keith Money one of the founders of Living Waters who has a background in in international produce and flower distribution. “I know how hard it is to get fresh food to the stores.”
“I have a deep concern for people without access to good fresh healthy food, particularly children,” explained Money. “When I moved back to Elkin 2 years ago, I wanted to do something that could make a difference. Working with my nephew Rex Walker we began to consider how to grow food year round to feed hungry kids. The result of much prayer and research led us to form the Living Waters Foundation, Inc. and to create the Fresh Food for Children Project.”
As a 501 (c) 3 the Fresh Food for Children Project does more than just feed children in the Yadkin Valley. One of the goals of the project is to teach the children to grow their own food as well helping to provide them with materials and motivation such as encouraging a hydroponic system in Ronda-Clingman Elementary.
“It’s amazing how the kids have really taken off [with their school project],” enthused cafeteria manager Melissa Wiles who is also wife to board member Bryan Wiles. Melissa described how students from different classes have taken turns using the hydroponic growing system at the school and their eagerness to learn even when plating was not part of their regular curriculum.
This enthusiasm for education is at the heart of Living Waters. “We are opening the Living Waters Farm Store on Main St., to be an educational location where people can see how indoor hydroponic farming actually works,” explained Money. “The store will provide a place for young people in our community to learn how they can make a difference. We will be growing over 60 varieties of culinary, medicinal and tea herbs that can be procured fresh at the store. All profits go to the Fresh Food for Children Project.”
The Farm Store is only the tip of the ice burg. “Our vision is to build a 25,000 square foot indoor hydroponic farm in Elkin that will be capable of producing more than 5,000 pounds of fresh leaf and vine produce every week, year round,” stated Money.
“[The Farm Store] is a showcase to help us get the farm up and running,” agreed Bryan Wiles who shared in Money’s vision to, “feed hungry kids. We had a desire to help local people in need, to feed hungry kids.”
The Living Waters family hopes to do more than just feed people’s bodies. “We opened the Store on Main Street because of its easy access and visibility in the community,” claimed Money. “I also wanted help the revitalization of our downtown. It is my hope that Living Waters Farm Store will become a reason for people to come downtown, not only to buy herbs, but just to see the living wall of plants.”
“We also will feature local youth artists and musicians, providing them a venue for their talent and craft,” continued Money. Guests to the store Saturday enjoyed such musicians as Longwalk, a duo of Charles Walker and Dylan Longworth who are sophomores from Elkin High School.
“I think it’s a cool place to come together and do some cool stuff,” affirmed Longworth.
East Wilkes Senior Carlos Aquino agreed, “I like how unique [the store] is.”
Ultimately Living Waters Farm Store is about feeding the children. “I hope the kids who are not capable of getting the things they need are going to be helped through this store,” asserted Walker who is son of co-founder Rex Walker.
We will have a grand opening for the store this weekend, April 14 and 15th. We will have live Music on Friday 5-7 and Saturday 2-4pm featuring “Longwalk”, Elkin High Schoolers Charles Walker and Dylan Longworth. Any young people who would like to display their art, crafts or to perform at the Farm Store should call 336-258-2849.
For more information about the Living Waters Farm Store and their mission go to www.livingwaters.foundation or visit the store at 105 West Main Street in downtown Elkin.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.