As the 2019 farm season is underway, there are new exciting developments happening for Food for All. In past years, Food for All has functioned primarily as its own single entity with a focus on growing food for donation and providing food security education to students at UMass Amherst. During the 2018 season, a connection between Food for All and The UMass Student Farm was strengthened through the efforts of the Food for All Program Manager, Kayleigh Boucher, who was also on the Student Farm. The connection allowed for both groups to pool their resources which has yielded greater impact in both the Amherst and Campus communities. Working with the Student Farm has allowed for Food for All to access a much larger source of excess produce for donations as well as access to a larger work force of passionate students. Last season Food for All and the Student Farm were able to donate over 10,000 pounds of produce together! Ultimately, the combo proved itself worthy of repeating.
This year we are making the connection between Food for All and The Student Farm official. Allison Driscoll and Nick Ferlazzo, with guidance from faculty Sarah Berquist & Amanda Brown, will be leading food donation efforts this 2019 season. As of this year, we will be going by the title of:
The UMass Student Farm Food Access Initiative!
For the past few weeks the new The UMass Student Farm Food Access Initiative program co-managers have been working on the Umass Student Farm getting the fields prepared and plants in the ground. There are usually varying amounts of excess materials and produce when farming and at the student farm we prioritize donating whatever excess we have to those who could use it before composting. We have begun developing a relationship with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center’s new Coop Workers Farm and were able to donate excess starts of potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers to another new emerging community farm. We have also been able to donate some of our brassica crops and summer squash to local families.
As the season progresses we look forward to switching gears from plant-start donations to food donations and volunteer hours! Later on this month the student farm crew will travel to Springfield to volunteer for a day with Gardening The Community, a food justice organization engaged in youth development, urban agriculture, and sustainable living. We are also hoping to get in contact with farms close to our South Deerfield location to ask if we could pick up any excess produce at the end of the week as a part of our donation drop-off to the Western Mass Food Bank. All in all, we are having a great start to the season and are making a lot of plans…stay tuned!