ONE ACRE CAFE
By Lynn J. Richardson
The project is being led by a former teacher, driven by a determination to address the issue of hunger.
Jan Orchard, executive director of One Acre Café, says she was inspired to address hunger issues when, as a teacher, she became involved in a summer program to provide food for children while they were not in school.
“After that, it seemed like every direction I looked, I saw the problem about being able to eat expanding,” Orchard said. “I saw people having to defer their dinner in order to feed their children and these were even people with two incomes.”
Orchard hopes her plans to start a new kind of café in Johnson City can make a real difference in such situations.
The mission is to provide a place for all community members to eat a healthy, high quality meal in a welcoming environment, even those unable to pay.
The fundraiser, called a First Seed Event, will allow people to learn more about the goal to open One Acre Café later this year. There will also be a guest speaker from a similar café in Boone, N.C., live music, a silent auction and catering by Main Street Cafe and Catering.
Orchard believes there is no better time to develop such a resource.
“You don’t wait for a crisis before you set up a resource,” she said.
One Acre Café will offer those unable to pay the option of helping instead, receiving meal tokens for each volunteered hour.
Other funding for the project will come from those who come to eat at the restaurant and can afford to pay the cost of the meal, and sometimes more.
“We will be sustained in part, not only by direct donations, but by those diners who pay it forward – the ones who pay extra for their meal so that someone else can eat later,” Orchard said.
Volunteers will come from all walks of life, she added, with help coming from both those who are secure financially as well as those who are not.
Orchard is joined on the café’s executive committee by Jonesborough native and restaurant owner Beverly Jenkins, of Main Street Café. Other members include Orchard’s son, Bryan Orchard, Michelle Watts and Denise Cerreta, founder of One World Everybody Eats.
“We’re so excited about it,” Jenkins said. “The first time I heard about it, I was hooked. What a great idea.”
Not only can everyone have a good meal, Jenkins said, but when they volunteer, they learn skills they can use “to take out and better themselves.”
Jenkins’ husband, Herman, is also involved and will serve on the equipment committee for the café as well as assist with choosing a site for the restaurant.
The café will provide meals prepared with fresh ingredients, much of which will come from local farmers and gardeners.
“We want to connect with local farmers and food markets so we can buy from them,” Orchard said. “That way we can support the community and receive their donations when they have more than enough.”
The menus will be based on seasonal food, so the group must find a chef who is creative in using food that is available.
The One Acre Café will join 29 similar entities across the country. Five or six more are works in progress, Orchard said.
The project will succeed in Johnson City only if the community is completely engaged, Jenkins noted.
“If the community doesn’t help, it won’t work, because it is for the community,” she said. “I am passionate about this because over time hundreds and hundreds of people will benefit from this restaurant. I just think it’s about time.”
For more information about the One Acre Café First Seed Event contact Watts at 218-7900 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Orchard at 833-8033 or by email at email@example.com.