After a year-long delay, we finally have permission from the Town and County to construct a 34×100-foot year-round hoophouse. This will allow us to grow fresh organic vegetables all the way through the fall, winter, and early spring – the time when the food pantries are in greatest need of our nutritious produce.
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Thank you all for staying with us through two cancellations, because of rain, of our Annual Barbecue Benefit. On August 18th not only did we have a great turnout but, as promised, we had an evening of good food, good cheer and a marvelous sunset. We can’t begin to describe how much your support means to us and we hope all of you return for next year’s event, and that those who missed this year will join us next year.
We want to explain a little more about our fundraising efforts, and how we spend the money. This benefit was largely paid for from our own personal funds, and not by the Food Pantry Farm. We use the money that you donate for the operation of the Farm. We pay our field manager, Darcy, a living wage as opposed to a subsistence wage paid by other non profits. We buy seeds and soil enhancements. We buy necessary equipment to make our land fertile and productive.
For example, many of you who were here last year saw the “buckwheat field” filled with weeds and then buckwheat. Now, it is filled with cabbages, broccoli, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and more. When we first leased that field — almost an acre — it was filled with weeds. We tilled the soil and planted buckwheat to deter weeds and start the process of replenishing soil nutrients. But most importantly, with the funds we raised last year we were able to buy a spreader for small fields to attach to our tractor (on loan but for which we pay annual upkeep) so we could lay down compost, which is the essential building block for creating productive soil to grow food organically. Then we irrigated the field with drip lines, and covered some of the planting beds with black plastic mulch to retard weed growth, purchasing all this necessary equipment with funds donated by our supporters.
Now, we are faced with bringing back to productivity the abandoned one-acre fruit orchard. This year we planted summer and winter squash in landscaping tubs abandoned by the prior tenant — not optimal but satisfactory for a transitional year. Next year, we hope to create vegetable beds between the trees and start the process of reinvigorating the trees that we can salvage, and planting new trees. To deal with the orchard overgrowth, we will need to purchase a special mowing attachment to fit on a rototiller that was donated by a friend.
And then, by next year, we hope to have our 3,400-square-foot hoophouse built and growing produce twelve months a year. We have most of the funding for this from supporters who believe in the unique role that the Food Pantry Farm can play in our East End community.
Like any start up, Food Pantry Farm has been built with personal funds, sweat equity, and the assistance of friends and family. One day, perhaps we can be a recognizable asset in Town that would permit a broad-based fundraising effort. But right now, our friends are our key to success. We understand that and cherish all your contributions.
Thank you from all of us at the Food Pantry Farm.
John Malafronte got a well-deserved turn in the spotlight on a recent Anderson Cooper 360 TV show. Take a look:
As of this week, we have donated about 14 tons of fresh veggies to the food pantries. Our weekly harvest is getting smaller as the weather gets colder, but we still have some crops in the field and more in the hoophouse.
We’re looking for a farm intern for next season, so if you are interested (or know anyone who might be) send us a snail-mail letter to Food Pantry Farm, PO Box 181, East Hampton, NY 11937.
October 10, 2010: With last week’s deliveries, we totaled over 21,000 pounds of veggies donated to the food pantries. The crops look good for the fall, with more coming along in the hoophouse, so we will keep going as long as we can!
we had to postpone our party until Wednesday, from 6 PM until dark. We hope to see you then!
We have now donated more than 9,000 pounds of fresh produce to the food pantries every week. Last year we gave our vegetables to the East Hampton Food Pantry, and this year we have been able to grow enough to supply the Springs and Sag Harbor pantries.
We plan to do the same thing next year, and more so. We are increasing the amount of land we have under cultivation at EECO Farm so we will be able to increase our donations of produce. We’ll also be able to take advantage of the lessons we’ve learned this year!
The support we get from our donors, and the gratitude of the folks at the food pantries, is wonderful.
We have been able to buy a new compost spreader that will help us to improve the soil we have to work with. The organic grower’s mantra is “Feed the soil to feed the plants,” and that’s this new implement will do. Powered by Peter’s 1940 Ford tractor, these two relatively light machines will put down tons of compost without compacting the soil.
Compost is not a major plant nutrient. What it does is feed all the billions of little critters in the soil that do all the work of making plant nutrients. They live, die, and eat each other while they do this. The result: soil that is teeming with microbes* and full of life. This grows healthy plants that don’t need chemical fertilizers and all that crap.
*There’s a great book, Teaming With Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide To The Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis (Timber Press, 2006). My other favorites are Life in The Soil, by James Nardi (University of Chicago Press, 2007) and The Soul of Soil, by Joe Smillie and Grace Gershuny. If you are serious about growing healthy plants, you really should read at least one of these.
We have been able to supply scores of bushel boxes of fresh produce to the East Hampton, Springs, and Sag Harbor food pantries. Lots of greens, plus radishes, carrots, and basil. Thanks to our volunteers — John, Bruce, Ira, and Peter — for all they are doing!