Resident hopes to start urban teaching farm

CORNELIUS – A resident is attempting to teach others to have “food empathy” and understand what they are eating, where it comes from and the impacts of sustainable farming.

Joanna Bailey, of Cornelius, is in the process of establishing SAVOR Southern, an urban teaching farm, located on two acres in the heart of Cornelius. Bailey’s vision is to teach kids cooking classes, offer gardening and canning lessons and host family movie nights and community dinners using farm fresh food, plus use the space for small-scale events.

“People are waking up to how unsafe our food supply,” she said of the resurgence in buying fresh. “They are starting to understand how to regain health. We ate our way to disease and now we can eat our way to health.”

While she needs investors to fulfill her plan, Bailey has started one component, launching the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in March. People can become members to receive approximately 10-pound boxes of homegrown vegetables and fruits weekly through pick-up or delivery. Schools and churches that refer people to sign up to the CSA can get 20 percent of the funds.

With the help of her four children, Bailey grows heirloom organic products with an assortment of vegetables, including cucumbers, artichokes, sweet potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes.

“You won’t just get a box of potatoes,” she said. “It will be something different every week.”

From here, she hopes to add the other aspects of her plan, including the farm dinners and classes this fall.

Getting the business off the ground has been more difficult than first imagined, Bailey said, having been delayed by Mother Nature and seeking the needed funds to buy the property she rents in downtown Cornelius by Nov. 1 to turn her ideas into fruition.

Bailey chose the Gryder family land because it has been cared for with the natural setting. She plans to build a barn with a commercial-grade kitchen as well as offer a large patio with an outdoor kitchen.

“This is the opportunity to be a community hub that is food related,” Bailey said. “I want to have a Sunday brunch were you can sit and meet people while your kids climb trees.”

Bailey, who is getting her certification in public health, also has a design firm and is founder and CEO of the women’s organization Women Who Rise.

Want to learn more? To join the CSA or find out more about SAVOR Southern, visit