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Conversations with Lisa Grele Barrie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Grele Barrie.

Lisa, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Raleigh City Farm is a nonprofit urban farm founded in 2011 on a formerly vacant one-acre lot in downtown Raleigh. Our mission is to connect and nourish our community through sustainable agriculture. We believe in the power of urban farms to reduce waste, create healthier communities, and re-connect city-dwellers with healthy food production through more frequent encounters with agriculture. We believe that turning vacant lots into productive, nourishing farmland can create something from nothing – an amenity from an eyesore. We believe that urban farms can bring people together, make our neighborhoods more beautiful and safe, and spur economic development and growth.

We’ve hosted and supported many different farmers over the years to provide them with the opportunity to experiment, learn and grow. Currently, we are employing a skilled Farm Manager who is managing a team of interns and teaching them everything they need to know about sustainable, regenerative agriculture while stewarding the land and growing nutrient-dense produce. Our site also includes beautiful gardens filled with flowers, trees and shrubs with spaces for our community to gather and observe where their food is grown. We host a weekly Farmstand every Wednesday from 4-7 pm from April-October, selling affordable, healthy produce and sharing the excess with our nonprofit partners who are addressing food insecurity and access through our year-round Farmshare program. Since April 2020, we’ve donated ~2,000 lbs of produce.

Our 1.3-acre site is nestled in a vibrant downtown neighborhood adjacent to the “Person Street Plaza” that includes an eclectic mix of locally owned stores. Customers and neighbors can stroll through the grounds and relax on the benches and picnic tables on-site. Other programs and services include volunteer workdays and farm tours, community events and outreach initiatives, including our off-site “Farm to Camp” program with the Salvation Army and weekly yoga classes. We share educational content in our email newsletters, social media posts and blogs. We also engage nearly 3,000 community members a year on-site have an additional 27,000 fans and followers in multiple digital spaces. As an essential business, we were able to increase our impact and serve our community during the pandemic in new and innovative ways while engaging in robust safety protocol.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Sustaining any nonprofit organization to ensure high performance and mission delivery is always a challenge. Keeping Raleigh City Farm growing has required diligent, effective governance and evolving strategy to respond to changing conditions. The challenges unique to this nonprofit include landlord and farmer relations and stewardship along with the whims of Mother Nature. Adapting to whatever comes our way has created resilience and heightened an innovative spirit within our team.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
With over 38 years of experience in fundraising, sales, marketing and nonprofit management, I have a solid track record of leading organizational change and bringing a creative, results-oriented approach to my work that motivates and inspires others. My core values drive all that I do: 1) Leadership to cultivate organizational change; 2) Creativity to deliver innovative solutions; 3) Collaboration to increase financial capacity; 4) Service to build a stronger community and 5) Well-being to influence healthy culture.

I am proud of my role as the CEO of NC Theatre, Raleigh’s nonprofit professional theatre company for over nine years, leading and growing it through founder transition, recession and competition. I’ve been involved with Raleigh City Farm since its inception, first as a volunteer and now as the Executive Director and have played a vital role in the continued growth and success of the Farm. My consistent mantra is that I always show up, tell the truth and do my best.

What matters most to you?
Cultivating places, plants and people to their highest potential. Because we all deserve it.


  • Farmstand produce ranges from $2-$5
  • Cultivator Club membership at $30/month entitles you to Farmstand benefits
  • Corporate sponsorships start at $500 annually

Contact Info:

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