Food Bank Farm 2.0: Deepening Roots in the Pioneer Valley
Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director of The Food Bank, explains how our organization plans to increase the amount of locally-grown produce we distribute through the purchase of a second food bank farm in the region.
We’re blessed to live in western Massachusetts replete with small farms that grow fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables for us to eat. Unfortunately, far too many people cannot afford to partake in our region’s bounty. Often, they are not even accustomed to eating fresh food. I’ve heard countless stories of children whose understanding is that fruits and vegetables come from a can or a frozen bag rather than grown from the dirt.
For this reason, in 1992, The Food Bank purchased a 59-acre farm in Hadley. Since then to this day, we have partnered with a local community-supported agriculture farmer to grow vegetables on the farm. For the last seven years, we’ve partnered with Ben Perrault of Mountainview Farm CSA, who farms our land as well as his own. In lieu of cash rent, we receive a share of the harvest – 112,000 lbs. of fresh organic vegetables that are agreed upon before the start of the growing season.
The Food Bank Farm has proven so successful that we’ve been planning for several years to purchase a second farm. That day has finally come. Through a long partnership with the Kestrel Land Trust, we are poised to buy a second farm in Hadley. This farm, which has approximately 142 acres, including 61 tillable acres of productive farmland, will expand significantly our local source of fresh, healthy vegetables for distribution directly to food-insecure households and indirectly to children in high-poverty school districts through school meal programs. At the same time, we will protect valuable farmland from development and provide opportunities for farmers to gain more access to scarce farmland and new markets for their produce. In the coming months, we’ll have lots more information to share with you about this innovative project. Please contact me if you would like to help us reach our fundraising goal and realize this dream come true.