Farm Urges People To “Buy Food, Not Crap”
12/27/11 7:34AM By Jane Lindholm
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(Host) As many of us are cooking up a storm for various holiday gatherings, some Vermonters are struggling just to put food on the table.
VPR's Jane Lindholm has the story of one local farm working to help ensure access to fresh produce.
(Linus Hanrady) "I did, like, three quarters of a crate of garlic, for tomorrow."
(Rachel Nevitt) "Awesome."
(Hanrady) "It's not quite full but..."
(Nevitt) "Yeah, awesome."
(Hanrady) "That's fine."
(Nevitt) "So what's our plan for tomorrow?"
(Lindholm) After dark on a frigid weekday afternoon, Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg is still humming. Co-owner Rachel Nevitt and farm worker Linus Hanrady have been hard at work picking vegetables and covering others.
(Nevitt) "I gotta go back down to the high tunnel and recover all the greens. I uncovered them."
Hanrady: "Oh, you want me to do that right now?"
(Hanrady) "Are you sure? It's only going to take me a minute."
(Lindholm) Full Moon Farm was spared the flooding that smacked so many Vermont farms on either end of the growing season. So there's still a bounty of fresh produce to pick, clean and sell. Nevitt and her husband David Zuckerman are feeling grateful for their good luck. They've been donating food to farmers who were left with nothing after Irene. But it struck them that even more could be done.
(Nevitt) "In the aftermath of Irene, one of the really terrible end effects that people haven't thought about-they've thought about the farm's devastation, they've thought about the consumer devastation. But the places that really miss out right now are the food shelves because they usually get a lot of seconds foods from farmers or food that the farmers can't sell. So I wanted to put an extra effort into getting good food into the food shelf."
(Lindholm) Nevitt started the "Give Food Not Crap" campaign to help spur others to action.
(Nevitt) "Basically people buy from our farm. They give us a dollar and we translate that into a pound of fresh organic food for the food shelf either in Hinesburg or in Burlington."
(Lindholm) Though the farm is essentially getting paid to donate that food to the food shelves, Nevitt says a dollar a pound is quite a bit less than they could get from the wholesale or retail market.
(Jean Kiedaisch) "So what have I got here?
(Nevitt) "It's all labeled nicely."
(Kiedaisch) "I know I have some purple carrots!"
(Kiedaisch) "I'm Jean Kiedaisch and I live very close to Full Moon Farm here in Hinesburg. I've come to take a load of vegetables to the food shelf in Hinesburg. So what have I got here?"
(Nevitt) "You have got, um, there's 15-pound boxes. We've got two boxes of orange carrots, a box of purple carrots, some green cabbage, some red cabbage, some turnips. I think that's what we've put in there today."
(Lindholm) Jean Kiedaisch has picked up a gift certificate for her grandson, which means produce will be donated to the food shelf. And she's volunteered to drive those veggies over there.
(Kiedaisch) I'm just very aware that at this time of year, in particular, food and shelter and warmth are very important to Vermonters and not everybody has all they need.
(Car door slams)
(Nevitt) "Thank you so much, Jean."
(Nevitt) "Thanks Jean!!"
(Lindholm) For food shelves, finding fresh produce can be difficult, especially when times are hard for farmers.
And times are hard for others these days too. Over at the Hinesburg food shelf that same evening, a line had formed before the building opened for an evening pick up. As the doors were unlocked, about a dozen people crowded in from the cold. Volunteers rolled noisy red carts around, helping clients gather their groceries.
(Volunteer) "And then over here you can take some produce if you like."
(client) "I'm excited about that."
(Lindholm) The purple carrots weren't going over too well, but everything else from Full Moon Farm seemed to be well-received.
(Client) "I'm going to go with the cabbage."
(Volunteer) "Alright, we've got a cabbage for you."
(Client) "I love turnip."
(Volunteer) ".Get you a couple of turnips, and some regular looking carrots, the kind you recognize!"
(Client) "Alright, you can throw some of them in!"
(Lindholm) One woman from Huntington said getting fresh food is especially hard at the grocery store.
(Client) "I wanted to get squash because I know squash is good for you. But it was $1.79 a pound. One of the squashes was like 5 pounds and something and they didn't have smaller ones. You know, that's a lot."
(Lindholm) Marisa Parisi is the Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont. She says studies show that Vermont remains in the top ten states in the country for severe food insecurity. And it has very poor access to fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in the winter months. Parisi says as federal safety net programs like the LIHEAP energy program and food subsidy budgets are in jeopardy, any help for the food shelves is welcome.
(Parisi) "There's no one that lives in a community without hunger right now in the state of Vermont. And for all of us that should be unacceptable. We should as a community recognize that and work to change it. Because if any state can change it, it's Vermont."
(Lindholm) For VPR news, I'm Jane Lindholm.