Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Donna Pearson McClish, Common Ground


If one can’t get the people to the produce, then take the produce to the people. A Wichita family has created a mobile market that delivers healthy produce to senior centers in south central Kansas.

“Common ground.” That term typically refers to shared values. Today, we’ll learn about an initiative where the name applies to people who are literally using their farm ground or garden acreage for a common purpose, to help feed the needy, elderly and others in their communities.

Donna Pearson McClish created this initiative known as Common Ground Producers and Growers Mobile Market. Donna grew up in Wichita where she lives today.

“My dad was a truck farmer,” Donna said. “In 1968, my folks bought a 40-acre farm northeast of town.” Today, the city of Wichita has grown entirely around it. On this acreage, her father raised vegetables and had a community garden.

“My mother rounded up the neighborhood children and would teach them canning and sewing,” Donna said. She also raised 12 children, of whom Donna is the oldest. Today, Pearson Farms continues to raise produce for the community.

“One summer my brother came to me and said we had extra produce that year,” Donna said. “`What should we do with it?’ he asked. I said, ‘Well, we could start a farmer’s market,’” Donna said.

The Pearsons contacted the K-State Research and Extension Sedgwick County Extension Office to get advice about opening a farmer’s market. They met with Bev Dunning, the county extension director at the time. “It turned out that she had worked with my mother on our front porch, teaching canning and sewing many years ago,” Donna said.

Shortly after that, Donna was on her way to a church meeting when her phone started buzzing. “You need to get a newspaper,” she was told. When she stopped for a paper, she saw the lead article was about Bev Dunning retiring from extension – but that wasn’t what caught her eye.

“The first sentence of the article said that Donna Pearson McClish wants to start a farmer’s market, according to Bev,” Donna said. “Oh my, we thought we were just exploring alternatives.” But that public comment gave Donna and her family the nudge they needed to proceed with plans for their farmer’s market which began on their farm.

The farmer’s market was visited by Donna’s friend who worked with senior citizens. The friend commented that her clients had received USDA-issued senior market vouchers which are only good at farmer’s markets, but had no transportation to get there. “Could you bring the produce to our senior center?” she asked. Donna consented and the mobile market was born.

It turned out that a committee of senior health center staff had been working for two years on a solution to the unused senior market vouchers. Donna set out to gather produce and bring it to the senior centers.

“In 2014 we started with 11 senior centers where we delivered produce,” Donna said.  “Now it has grown to 33, and we visit most centers two times each month.” Many of these are low-income, senior citizen high rises. These include multiple centers in Wichita, as well as more rural locations such as Haysville, Newton, Hesston, Andover, and the town of Clearwater, population 2,431 people. Now, that’s rural.

This initiative is called Common Ground Producers and Growers Mobile Market. “We work with a network of growers within a hundred miles, so the food is local,” Donna said.  To the extent possible, no herbicides or pesticides are used. Her grandson helped with deliveries and now trains other youth to assist. They distribute fruits and vegetables such as beets, greens, corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, okra, tomatoes, and more.

It’s a win-win situation. Senior citizens get local, healthy produce and growers have an additional outlet for their production. “It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work,” Donna said. “We want to expand and we are always looking for more growers.” Donna is also active in the Kansas Black Farmers Association.

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/commongroundpg.

Common ground. In this case, growers are using their ground to produce healthy food for the common benefit. We commend Donna Pearson McClish and all those involved with Common Ground Mobile Market for making a difference with this initiative. The results are uncommonly good.

Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.


The mission of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is to enhance rural development by helping rural people help themselves. The Kansas Profile radio series and columns are produced with assistance from the K-State Research and Extension Department of Communications News Media Services unit.

Source: Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Donna Pearson McClish, Common Ground

Kansas City Food Hub

The Kansas City Food Hub is a Cooperative Association owned by member farms operating within the Kansas City region. We improve the economic viability of small- and medium-sized farms by coordinating aggregation hubs, bringing farms and buyers together in a community that benefits growers, businesses and-ultimately-consumers. We help farmers become economically successful by giving them a consistent market for their products. Our most important function is marketing, sales and distribution service. Additional programs and services include crop/stock planning, food safety planning, bulk packaging supply and technical training and education.

Source: Farmer Owned, Farmer Run

From the Land of Kansas

Source: From the Land of Kansas

Community Supported Agriculture | Alternative Farming Systems Information Center| NAL | USDA



Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. 

In a traditional CSA model…

  • Members share the risks and benefits of food production with the farmer.
  • Members buy a share of the farm’s production before each growing season.
  • In return, they receive regular distributions of the farm’s bounty throughout the season.
  • The farmer receives advance working capital, gains financial security, earns better crop prices, and benefits from the direct marketing plan.

“Current business models for CSAs are diverse and innovative. Producers have adapted the CSA model to fit a variety of emerging direct marketing opportunities, including:

  • Institutional health and wellness programs;
  • Multi-farm systems to increase scale and scope;
  • Season extension technologies; and
  • Incorporating value-added products, offering flexible shares, and flexible electronic purchasing and other e-commerce marketing tools.”

T. Woods, M. Ernst, and D. Tropp. Community Supported Agriculture – New Models for Changing Markets. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, April 2017. Web: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/CSANewModelsforChangingMarketsb.pdf

Find Local Food and CSAs Near You

Search State and regional farm directories

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What is Community Supported Agriculture

Marketing through Community Supported Agriculture


Surveys and Statistics

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Where to Find More Information

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Search AGRICOLA, the National Agricultural Library (NAL) Catalog.
AGRICOLA (AGRICultural Online Access) is a bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and its cooperators. Records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines. [Learn more about AGRICOLA.]

  1. Search AGRICOLA using Open AGRICOLA: 
    • Find books, articles, electronic documents and other formats
    • Example search terms / phrases: (“community supported agriculture”) OR (“community supported farm?”) OR (“CSA farm?”) OR (“subscription farm?”) OR (teikei)
  2. Subject browse in AGRICOLA:
    • Articles: Subject Search Then, select the Subject tab. Enter: “community supported agriculture” and select “hit the Enter key.
    • Books: Subject Search. Then, select the Subject tab. Enter: “community supported agriculture” and hit the Enter key.

Review Community Supported Agriculture – Automated Database Searches to search additional resources.

Additional Information for Farmers

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Eating Seasonally and Regionally

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Community Food Systems: Farm-to-School, Food Circles, and Farmers’ Markets

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The Sustainable/Organic Agriculture Connection

Information from USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture supports three major programs that offer sustainable agriculture information and assistance. Whether you are a farmer, an educator or a researcher seeking more information about sustainable agriculture in general, about a specific crop, or help with a specific problem, these programs can help. Contact information for each program and a description of each program’s area of specialization are provided below.

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Archived AFSIC resources on Community Supported Agriculture include:

Compiled by:

AFSIC staff
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ask a Question
Reviewed September 2018

Source: Community Supported Agriculture | Alternative Farming Systems Information Center| NAL | USDA

Kansas | The Economic Contributions and Impacts of U.S. Food, Fiber, and Forest Industries

Source: Kansas | The Economic Contributions and Impacts of U.S. Food, Fiber, and Forest Industries

Farmers Market Metrics – Farmers Market Coalition

Farmers Market Metrics The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) worked with market and research partners to develop a complete evaluation & data communication system for farmers markets, known as Farmers Market Metrics (FMMetrics). FMMetrics is driven by the need for efficient farmers market management tools, that can also serve to streamline grant reporting. The scalable and customizable…

Source: Farmers Market Metrics – Farmers Market Coalition

MIFI Markets – We grow farmers markets by empowering them with insight.

Source: MIFI Markets – We grow farmers markets by empowering them with insight.

benchmarks | Economic Impacts of Local and Regional Food Systems

Visit the post for more.

Source: benchmarks | Economic Impacts of Local and Regional Food Systems

farm to school | Economic Impacts of Local and Regional Food Systems

New report: Economic impacts of farm to school, September 29, 2017

Webinar: Economic Impacts of Farm to School

The webinar is part of a wider effort to promote the release of the associated report Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools (a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University). Panelists discuss findings of the new report, highlight the use of two key resources for conducting economic impact studies of food system initiatives and their application to farm to school economic impact assessment, and discuss continuing work to better understand the impacts of farm to school activities. Additional panelists include representatives from USDA Office of Community Food Systems, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and Cornell University.
Download Webinar Presentation Here  
Watch the Webinar Below:


Nearly 100,000 schools across the U.S. serve school lunches to 30.5M students each day ($12.99B annual federal dollars). Leveraging these public expenditures to create economic opportunities for rural communities, U.S. agriculture, and food supply chain businesses, as well as to improve the health and well-being of children and households is essential. In 2010, Congress formally mandated funding for farm to school programs (FTSPs: local food procurement, education and/or school gardens) as part of the 2010 Child Nutrition Act – the first major change in school food in 15 years. As of 2013/2014, 42,587 schools reported participating. Despite the undeniable interest in FTSPs and the mandate of federal support, there has been little rigorous research at the national level to quantitatively assess whether FTSPs contribute to positive economic and public health outcomes in rural communities.


What are the impacts of farm to school programs on farmers and food supply chain businesses, household consumption patterns, and school food choice, consumption and food plate waste?


  • Evaluate if FTSPs result in increased market access and profitability outcomes for farmers and food supply chain businesses;
  • Explore geographic and inter-temporal patterns in U.S. households’ food demand/consumption to assess whether FTSPs are correlated with changes in the purchased amounts of recommended foods at home;
  • Pilot in-school experiments to assess how specific FTSPs influence food choice, consumption, and food plate waste;
  • Introduce results to research, extension, practitioner, and policymaker audiences. Through integrating four research and extension scopes, this project will yield improved understanding of emerging FTS markets, resulting in long-range improvement in the sustainability of U.S. agriculture, local food systems, and rural communities.

Source: farm to school | Economic Impacts of Local and Regional Food Systems