‘Mob’ of pigs assists food bank expansion
Thanks largely to the generosity of the Penn Valley Community Foundation, the Healthy Harvest Project will begin farming four acres of the land planned for eventual development of the Penn Valley Community Center, said Toni Thompson, executive director of The Food Bank of Nevada County.
When the center begins construction, the garden will be allowed to stay on the back end of the property to continue producing food for those in need.
Foundation President Chuck Glahn said the organization is pleased to offer the property for the production of additional produce for Food Bank clients and partner agencies.
“With the help of Brad Fowler, who has utilized his cows, goats and now his ‘mob’ of pigs, the land is being cleared of vegetation and prepared for use. We are very enthusiastic about the use of the land for producing food for those in need,” Glahn said.
“Louie Osterude of Empire Fence erected 8-foot fencing around the entire property and is assisting, along with other community members, in preparing the land for the garden.”
Thompson said the garden established last year on property donated by Gold N’ Green Equipment Rentals, was recently expanded and is producing well, but the growing need for fresh produce for clients will be helped by the ability to use the parcel of land in Penn Valley starting next spring.
Plans include planting a cover crop of fava beans this fall to enrich the soil, developing a core group of volunteers in Penn Valley to help plant, harvest and maintain the crops, and partnerships with Penn Valley businesses to help with costs, equipment and expertise.
Because the land has power and water, garden coordinator Ellen Persa, who began the original garden, plans to build a greenhouse to support both the Grass Valley garden and the new Penn Valley site with starter plants in the spring.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have volunteers and organic growers donate starter plants the past two years, as well as planting seeds donated by Peaceful Valley. A greenhouse will allow us to get a huge head start on next spring’s planting,” Persa said.
Studies have shown that people in need of The Food Bank’s help, living below the poverty level, spend very little on fresh produce and have nutritional deficiencies because of it; children are most impacted.
The majority of food donated to The Food Bank comes in cans and boxes, supplemented by surplus produce at the end of the farmers markets purchased from the USDA and from grocery stores.
It is estimated that the Healthy Harvest Project garden supplies enough fresh produce to meet approximately 50 percent of the needs of the Food Bank clients.
“Everything grown in our garden goes out to our clients as soon as it is harvested by our volunteers – we can’t meet all the needs at this time, but we hope the addition of the Penn Valley location will get us a lot closer,” added Thompson.
To learn more and support the two gardens, visit the garden Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Food-Bank-of-Nevada-County-Healthy-Harvest-Garden/ 200810433291700 or the Food Bank website at http://www.foodbankofnc.org or call (530) 272-3756.
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