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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Mike Shumake

The Produce Project

Mike Shumake, born in 1979, is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina. He spent ten years working as a teacher and an education consultant. In 2015, he founded The Produce Project, a nonprofit that generates about 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of fresh produce every week. Their sustainable business model sells affordable shares of produce. The Produce Project is a volunteer-run non-profit that sells shares of produce and then donates extra food and funds to community partners.

In his interview, Shumake focuses on how the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on him and The Produce Project. In general, produce share sales went up at the beginning of the pandemic. Mike attributes this mostly to people’s reluctance to go to a grocery store and to the Project’s no-touch system. At the time of the interview in July 2020, sales remained high but had slowed down compared to sales in Spring 2020. Shumake credits his volunteers for their help during the Pandemic. He also discusses donating free shares to folks in the service industry in Raleigh who were out of work.

Date of interview:

Ellen Brooks


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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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