Tag Archives: Veggies for All

Veggies for All joins MFT

Published in The Republican Journal

Feb 12, 2014

Local Food Bank Farm Project Joins Forces with Maine Farmland Trust

The Unity-based Veggies For All food bank farm project is now part of Maine Farmland Trust’s Farm Viability Program.  Veggies For All is a community agriculture project that works to relieve hunger by growing vegetables for those in need, while collaborating with partners to distribute and increase access to quality and nutritious food.

The project was founded in 2007 by Tim Libby and other young farmers who recognized the great potential for local agriculture to relieve hunger in western Waldo county. Tim Libby, a former MOFGA journey-person and skilled vegetable grower, continues to be the project farm manager.  Sara Trunzo joined the project in 2009 as the project’s administrative manager, overseeing development, partnership management, and community integration.

After several successful years under the Unity Barn Raisers, the project has matriculated to seek work with a statewide food and agriculture focused organization, while maintaining its connection to education and the Unity area through partnerships with Volunteer Regional Food Pantry and Unity College.

“Becoming part of a state-wide, agricultural-focused organization like Maine Farmland Trust is a natural next step in our growth and will allow Veggies For All to make a greater impact,” said Trunzo.  “We were so blessed to be ‘incubated’ by an organization like Unity Barn Raisers.  UBR recognized our value and encouraged our growth from the start.”

Veggies For All has produced nearly 75,000 pounds of vegetables for hunger relief since 2010 and serves approximately 1,500 clients (800 local, and 700 regional) through the distribution capabilities of the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry and other partners.

The project manages approximately 3 acres of land with sustainable production methods, both on Unity College’s campus and through donated leases with community members.  About 2 acres are in vegetables each season.  Production is focused on traditional, hardy fall crops, which are easily used and stored, such as potatoes, onions, cabbages, carrots, and winter squash.

 

Local food bank farm project joins forces with Maine Farmland Trust

UNITY — The Unity-based Veggies For All food bank farm project is now part of Maine Farmland Trust’s Farm Viability Program. Veggies For All is a community agriculture project that works to relieve hunger by growing vegetables for those in need, while collaborating with partners to distribute and increase access to quality and nutritious food, according to a press release.

The project was founded in 2007 by Tim Libby and other young farmers who recognized the great potential for local agriculture to relieve hunger in western Waldo County. Libby, a former MOFGA journey-person and skilled vegetable grower, continues to be the project farm manager. Sara Trunzo joined the project in 2009 as the project’s administrative manager, overseeing development, partnership management, and community integration.

After several years of successful management under the Unity Barn Raisers, the project has matriculated to seek work with a statewide food and agriculture focused organization, while maintaining its connection to education and the Unity area through partnerships with Volunteer Regional Food Pantry and Unity College.

Veggies For All has produced nearly 7,500 pounds of vegetables for hunger relief since 2010 and serves approximately 1,500 clients, 800 local and 700 regional, through the distribution capabilities of the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry and other partners.

The project manages approximately three acres of land with sustainable production methods, both on Unity College’s campus and through donated leases with community members. About two acres are in vegetables each season. Production is focused on traditional, hardy fall crops, which are easily used and stored, such as potatoes, onions, cabbages, carrots and winter squash.

http://www.onlinesentinel.com/community/Local_food_bank_farm_project_joins_forces_with_Maine_Farmland_Trust.html

Meet: Sara Trunzo, director of Veggies for All

Since 2007, the Unity-based project has raised 75,000 pounds of vegetables for people in need.

By Meredith Goad Staff Writer

Sara Trunzo is the director of Veggies for All, a Unity-based agricultural project that since its founding in 2007 has provided 75,000 pounds of sustainably raised vegetables to people in need. Created by current farm manager Tim Libby and other young farmers, Veggies for All was nurtured by Unity College and several local organizations and is now a part of the nonprofit Maine Farmland Trust.

HOW SHE GOT INVOLVED: Trunzo, 28, earned a degree in English from Unity College, but “I found it hard to be in Unity, Maine, and not be falling in love with food and agriculture,” she said. “During the time I’m getting that degree, all of my projects, all the work I was interested in, all my volunteerism was in food and agriculture. My sister’s a farmer, too, so I was primed. But I found it so sad and mind-boggling and frustrating that, in a community that is surrounded by farms and is so proud of its farming, we do have neighbors that are not eating well because they can’t afford healthy food. It seems so ironic and cruel, and also something that, with a little bit of elbow grease, could be fixed.”

WHERE DOES HER GARDEN GROW? Veggies for All keeps about 3 acres in production, about half of that on the Unity College campus. Three other plots – all in Unity – are on private property.

“Our cabbages this year are right in the heart of campus, smack dab in the middle of everything,” Trunzo said. “It’s easy for us to work with students, and it’s easy for them to see what we’re doing. And then we have other plots around the community that, essentially, we’ve been given free lease to use as agricultural lands. Oftentimes they are lands that were previously underutilized. Landowners were saying, ‘Oh, my father or my grandfather used to do XYZ in that particular field and we’d love to see it in production again.’ With this project operating on such a shoestring, we’re definitely not in a position to pay landowners, but most of the time they’re not interested in receiving payment. They’re very, very happy to have their land stewarded and being made productive for hunger relief.”

WHAT DOES HER GARDEN GROW? Fall storage crops such as carrots, cabbage, onions, potatoes and winter squash, partly because they can go into distribution boxes at the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry as late as January and February. They’re also sturdier than most summer crops. “Volunteers at food pantries aren’t produce managers,” Trunzo said. “Their hearts are in the right place, but sometimes they don’t know exactly how delicately you need to treat a winter squash. That really matters with something like tomatoes or peppers. You can roughhouse a little bit with the types of vegetables that we’ve selected, and you still end up with a product when it actually reaches somebody’s kitchen that looks like a really nice vegetable.”

Concentrating on fall crops also means that most of the hard work in the fields happens during spring and fall, precisely when Unity students are in classes and looking around for a service project.

KEEPING IT BASIC: The group stays away from anything too exotic. “We’ve decided not to challenge anybody’s taste buds at that moment when they’re getting a box of food,” she said. “They’re in a place where they need a little bit of help. I’m not at all interested in challenging them with spicy mustard greens, if that’s not something they’re traditionally used to. Or funky-colored kohlrabi. We really try to stick to the basics so that people get food in their box that they’re not intimidated by, and they feel like, ‘Oh, I know how to make this into something that my family will eat.’ ”

NUMBER OF MAINERS SERVED: Veggies for All works closely with the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry, which reaches about 800 people in Unity. They help an additional 700 people who visit smaller food pantries in the area. Food is distributed every third Saturday in Unity.

“It’s designed that way to reinforce that this is a supplement and it’s an emergency food,” Trunzo said. “It’s not the place to get your regular groceries. It’s also at the end of the month because that tends to be when folks living on a fixed income or using some kind of benefit program are coming to the end of their benefits, or they may have bills due at that time. It’s the time of the month when families are having the hardest time making ends meet.”

HELPING HANDS: A handful of regular volunteers help Trunzo and Libby all summer, but as many as 100 volunteers chip in during the year to help put vegetables on Mainers’ tables. Some are individual students who want to be more engaged in their community. But sometimes entire classes – those studying agriculture and the food system, sustainability or social justice – volunteer as a group to help with a big task. “It’s really amazing having twenty 20-year-olds helping us harvest carrots,” Trunzo said. “They really blow through that kind of task in a way that’s really fun.”

WHAT THE ORGANIZATION COULD USE: “Honestly, we need a full-sized pickup truck,” Trunzo said. “That is the No. 1 thing. Tim and I have been driving around in our little trucks for the past four or five years.”

Meet: Sara Trunzo, director of Veggies for All

Unity to receive technical assistance grant to aid community’s focus on local food, agriculture

Unity to receive technical assistance grant to aid community’s focus on local food, agriculture

By Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News

Photo by Gabe Degre for the Bangor Daily News

UNITY, Maine — Some pretty exciting things are starting to happen in Unity, and even the federal government is taking notice.

About 2,100 people live in the small central Maine town, an agricultural center that’s home to Unity College. Despite the small population, Unity has an abundance of ideas and organizations devoted to improving the community — and thanks to a federal technical assistance grant, community leaders are going to get some major help as they decide how to keep up the good work.

“I think it’s the center of the universe,” said Sara Trunzo of Unity, who is the director of Veggies For All and a staff member at the Maine Farmland Trust. “Great stuff is happening, but community is messy. All the projects are happening on their own timeline. Let’s take a step back, and plan a little bit.”

That planning will come courtesy of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the lead funder for the competitive “Local Foods, Local Places” grant initiative. Earlier this month, Trunzo and other local leaders learned that Unity was selected to be one of just 26 communities from around the country, and the only one in New England, that will share $800,000 worth of assistance from the government.

“We’re not getting a pile of money. We’re getting outside expertise to refine the work we’re doing,” said Trunzo. “It will help take all these great ideas about food and agriculture and translate them into action.”

Gail Chase of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments wrote the grant for the town of Unity.

Those great ideas include Veggies For All, a food bank farm that since 2010 has grown and distributed 75,000 pounds of vegetables to food-insecure people in the Unity area. They also include the Unity Barn Raisers, an active nonprofit that supports local farmers by purchasing local food for community meals; the innovative Volunteer Regional Food Pantry; and the new Unity Food Hub, designed to help local farmers enter the wholesale market.

On a snowy day recently, Trunzo stopped at the food pantry to say hello to senior citizens who had volunteered to prepare fresh vegetables, such as onions and cabbage, for the Saturday morning food bank pickups. Distribution happens just once a month, said Bob Van deVenter, the director of the food bank, and helps about 300 families from the Unity area. Cars that pull up to the drive-through window between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on distribution day at the old Unity firehouse receive individually packed boxes that include canned and dry goods, as well as fresh vegetables from Veggies For All.

DeVenter is a volunteer at the food bank, too.

“For myself, and what I’ve taught my kids is that you always have to give back,” he said. “Giving back is key.”

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, the sound of hammering and the whine of table saws was audible through the closed doors of the long-vacant former Unity Grammar School. By next spring or summer, the doors will open for the building’s reincarnation as the Unity Food Hub, an aggregation, marketing and distribution center that aims to assist farmers and increase access to local foods.

Although the operation isn’t up and running yet, the idea is going strong, according to Colleen Hanlon-Smith, who does sales, marketing and product placement for the Unity Food Hub. Member farmers can take advantage of a satellite storage facility, including a new walk-in cooler, at the Buckle Farm.

“There’s a lot of collaboration happening between these organizations,” Hanlon-Smith said as muck-boot-wearing farmhands prepared produce to take to a Boston farmers market. “Unity is a nexus with a lot of community leaders focused on agriculture.”

Leaders are excited to figure out where the planning and technical assistance grant might bring them in the near future — and are smiling to know that their hard work has been noticed.

“It’s amazing to live and work in a town of 2,000 people, and have our community recognized nationally,” Trunzo said.

See the article HERE.

Case Study: Veggies For All

Farm to Institution New England (FINE) recently wrote a detailed piece on our project Veggies For All, highlighting VFA’s important partnership with Unity College. This collaboration provides thousands of pounds of food to hundreds of clients of the local food bank, the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry, and offers educational opportunities for students. Read the full story here.

 

Feeding Maine Veggies For All

“Feeding Maine” at Frontier in Brunswick + a special event!

Feeding Maine: Growing Access to Good Food 

A photography exhibit by Brendan Bullock at Frontier

Brunswick. Frontier will show the new photo exhibit, Feeding Maine: Growing Access to Good Food, from January 12 – February 29. The show features photos by photographer Brendan Bullock, accompanied by writer Annie Murphy‘s captions, and highlights local food access efforts across Maine.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Maine Farmland Trust and Good Shepherd Food Bank will host a community discussion with local panelists about innovative projects that address hunger using local resources: rich farmland, skilled farmers, and community support. Panelists include Kristin Miale of Good Shepherd Food Bank, Karen Parker of Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program, Chris Cabot of BTLT & KELT, and Nate Drummond of Six River Farm, facilitated by Sara Trunzo of Veggies For All. The event will be on February 10, at 6PM at Frontier. The event is FREE, but please RSVP HERE.

The Feeding Maine photo exhibit is a collaboration between Maine Farmland Trust and Good Shepherd Food Bank and seeks to document some of the many people working for change in our communities across the state, with the hope that these efforts will continue to grow into a resilient food system that serves all Mainers.

Maine Farmland Trust works to protect farmland and grow farming throughout the state, while Good Shepherd Food Bank works to eliminate hunger. “Our goal is that this show conveys both the seriousness of hunger in Maine, and a sense of hope that we can overcome hunger,” said Julie Guerette of Good Shepherd, “By growing the kinds of efforts documented in this exhibit, we can make huge strides toward food security for all Mainers.”

More than 200,000 Mainers are food insecure. The term encompasses hunger and scarcity, as well as a lack of access to food that’s fresh and healthy.

“In making fresh food accessible to those who need it most, the projects featured in the exhibit are forging new opportunities for Maine farms— opening up markets, diverting waste through farm donations and gleaning, and creating new customers,” said Ellen Sabina, Outreach Director at Maine Farmland Trust.

Brendan Bullock is a freelance photographer and photography educator based in Bowdoinham, Maine. While most of his work is focused in Maine, he travels to make documentary pictures throughout the world, including South America, Europe, Africa, and India.

For a list of upcoming exhibits, visit mainefarmlandtrust.org/feeding-maine-exhibit. If you are interested in bringing the exhibit to your community, please email ellen@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Business Member Gather Maine

‘Farmer’s Dinner’ at Gather on February 4th

We are delighted to be part of Gather’s 2016 Farmer’s Dinner series. The Farmer’s Dinners will highlight specific farms and food suppliers while showcasing Maine’s abundant supply of food year-round. Each Farmer’s Dinner will feature special prefix tasting menu (no regular Gather menu). Normal seating will occur throughout the evening. Reservations for groups of 6 or more.

10% of evening proceeds will be donated to Maine Farmland Trust & Veggies For All.

 

The first dinner, Winter Bounty, will be on Thursday, February 4th.

WINTER BOUNTY MENU

 featuring Pie Tree Orchard & Dogpatch Farm 

4 course Tasting menu: $29 6 course Tasting menu: $39
Kale & Lentil soupAsian Greens, Sesame vinaigrette

Roast Pork and Winter Squash Galantine, spiced béchamel

Liberty Apple Galette, vanilla gelato

 

Kale & Lentil soupPork Carnitas, margarita glaze, crispy cornbread, pico de gallo

Asian Greens, Sesame vinaigrette

Honey-soy glazed carrots and parsnips

Roast Pork and Winter Squash Galantine, spiced béchamel

Liberty Apple Galette, vanilla gelato

 

Feeding Maine Veggies For All

Feeding Maine: Growing Access to Good Food opens in Belfast October 2

A photography exhibit by Brendan Bullock at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery

On October 2nd, from 5:30-8pm, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery will be hosting an opening for two new photo exhibits, which share the common theme of documenting hunger relief efforts in Maine.

On the ground floor, the gallery will be showing Feeding Maine: Growing Access to Good Food. This exhibit features photos by photographer Brendan Bullock, accompanied by writer Annie Murphy‘s captions. The series is a collaboration between Maine Farmland Trust and Good Shepherd Food Bank and seeks to document some of the many people working for change in our communities across the state, with the hope that these efforts will continue to grow into a resilient food system that serves all Mainers.

On the second floor, Unity College student Ru Allen will be making her debut with Harvesting Unity, a collection of photographs portraying the volunteers and program leaders of Veggies For All, a food bank farm in Unity. Allen shares: “Alternating between camera to my eye and hands in the earth, I attempted to capture as much of the growing process from start to finish in one growing season. What I was naturally drawn to, however, were the suspended moments in places that were easily overlooked.”

As part of this exhibit, Sara Trunzo, director of Veggies For All, will be giving a presentation on “How one community fights hunger with a food bank farm” on October 6 at the Belfast Free Library, from 6:30-7:45pm.

Veggies For All (VFA) is a food bank farm located in Unity, Maine that works to relieve hunger by growing vegetables for those in need, while collaborating with partners to distribute and increase access to quality and nutritious food. Since their founding in 2007, VFA has provided 108,000 pounds of vegetables to over 1,500 food-insecure, central Mainers and engaged hundreds of volunteers in thousands of hours of community-based hunger relief.  VFA became a project of MFT in 2014.

Brendan Bullock is a freelance photographer and photography educator based in Bowdoinham. While most of his work is focused in Maine, he travels to make documentary pictures throughout the world, including South America, Europe, Africa, and India.

Both photography exhibits will be on display until November 16. For a list of upcoming exhibits, visit mainefarmlandtrust.org/feeding-maine-exhibit. If you are interested in bringing the exhibit to your community, please email ellen@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, located at 97 Main Street, Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9-4. In addition, the gallery will be open on October 23rd, 5:30-8pm for the Friday Art Walk. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org

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