Slipping along icy sidewalks every morning on my walk to the Metro, I know I’m not the only person eagerly awaiting the first signs of spring. As a native Virginian, every year I look forward to the first spinach and strawberries, knowing that the local, seasonal produce will have been worth the wait.
But I’ve been twice as excited about spring since I came to the Capital Area Food Bank in October to manage the From Ground Up Fresh Produce Grant. In 2010, the CAFB awarded this grant to nine of our partners. Grantees went to Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD every other week to pick up hundreds of pounds of free, sustainably grown, chemical free produce to distribute to their clients.
It’s time for CAFB partners to look forward to spring with me—and apply for the 2011 FGU Fresh Produce Grant. Applications can be found here are due February 18th. Anyone with questions or requesting a paper copy can call or e-mail me at 202-529-5344 ext. 222.
Clagett Farm is a project of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a farm that is as dedicated to protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed as it is to producing some of the most delicious vegetables I’ve ever tasted. The more I learn about the health and environmental benefits of sustainably grown, chemical free produce and the economic benefits of Community Supported Agriculture, the more I like Clagett Farm. But the reason I love Clagett Farm, and the reason I’ve been anticipating spring since Halloween, is their commitment to donating 40-50 percent of their vegetable production to the low-income community. In 2010, through programs like the FGU Fresh Produce Grant, Clagett Farm was able to donate 36,698 pounds of their high-quality produce to people who need it the most.
Last year, the HIV+ patients at the Carl Vogel Center and Damien Ministries; homeless men struggling with addiction at the Father McKenna Center; and clients of the Allen Chapel AME and Bread for the City food pantries benefited from the Fresh Produce Grant. Clagett produce is nutrient-rich because it is harvested locally, safe because it’s free of chemicals, and a pleasure to eat because it is delicious.
I’m so excited that, when I get to cut into my first locally grown tomato this summer, I can do so knowing that I had a hand in getting the same quality produce onto the dinner tables of my neighbors in need. If you’d like to help the CAFB distribute local produce, donate to Share the Harvest. When the ice finally melts, consider coming out to Clagett Farm to volunteer for a day.