TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) Today there are over 27,000 people in Shawnee County alone, who have food insecurities. This year’s Shawnee County Food Assessment, by Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods, said food deserts are a reason for food insecurity. Food deserts leave 31,000 people with limited to no options for healthy food providers. Since 2016 another grocery store has closed in central Topeka. But, grocery stores aren’t the only place to find nutritious food options.
“Luckily we have farmers, like Insane Paine Produce, who are stepping in and trying to sell some fresh healthy food, right here on their farm and try and reduce those food deserts,” says Missty Lechner, with the American Heart Association.
“Fresh produce and being local, it’s picked fresh and we pick it daily. Versus the grocery store. You don’t know if it’s been there a week, two weeks,” said Co-owner of Insane Paine Produce Luke Paine.
Insane Pain Produce is a father son operation in north Topeka, an area where food deserts are a reality.
“We’re in an area where there’s not easy access to grocery stores. There’s small grocery stores, but nothing with local produce in it,” said Paine.
Producing local, is a rarity among farms in the area but the benefits are huge.
“What makes this so unique, is that we have hundreds of thousands of acres going into production of crops here in Shawnee County. But only one tenth, of one percent, of all of that acreage, is actually fruits and vegetables. And the rest is actually not for human consumption,” said Lechner.
Paine said they grow tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkins in the fall.
The farm also educates the community on food production. This helps the community better understand nutrition, with a hands on approach.
“We started a ‘You Pick Membership’ this year. We’re very glad to have families and their kids come out so they can learn at a young age where their food comes from,” said Paine.
Accessibility is key, and Insane Paine Produce makes it a top priority.
The farm is open, Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 to 5:00 p.m. at 734 NE Seward Ave, Topeka, Kansas. You can also find more information about the farm on their Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Insane-Paine-Produce-202753463110174/ or give them a call at (785) 478-6773.