October 13, 2011; Source: Sustainable Business Oregon | Through a new program launched by the Oregon-based nonprofit Farmers Ending Hunger, a $500 donation buys two acres of farmland, while and $25 buys a single row. Not literally, but the nonprofit’s clever new “Adopt an Acre” fundraising strategy builds tangible connections between rural farmers (and ranchers and processors) and urban communities to bring more fresh food to the tables of families reliant on the state’s food bank network.

Farmers Ending Hunger was established in 2004 to connect Oregon’s agricultural community with groups working to solve the state’s dubious distinction of having the highest rates of hunger and food insecurity in the nation. Through this nonprofit, farmers and ranchers donate a portion of their harvest, processors donate services, and foundations and individuals donate cash to cover additional expenses, including sorting, storage and transportation. In 2010, over 100 farmers and ranchers donated 1.9 million pounds of Oregon-grown food that was then distributed through the Oregon Food Bank network.

The “Adopt an Acre” campaign is a new campaign to build awareness of how individuals can help farmers and ranchers sustain and expand this work.

Since its beginning, the nonprofit has actively engaged with urban communities to educate urban consumers about hunger and the work that the state’s agricultural producers do to fill the gap. For example, throughout the summer, volunteers coordinate information tables at farmers markets throughout the Portland metropolitan area. This strategy enables the organization to draw together the resources of urban and rural residents—not always an easy task—in order to solve an important common challenge. —Kathi Jaworski