By Danielle Coots
For the Troy Daily News
TIPP CITY — One Tipp City non-profit organization has taken the responsibility to ensure that a local food bank has fresh, nutritious and locally grown produce available on a weekly basis. HarvestShare at the Food from the Earth divides shares of land with people around the community who will grow and produce fresh vegetables for the community. A portion of their crop is donated to The New Path food bank.
“Having fresh produce at the food pantry gives our families fresh healthy food options, instead of processed foods high in sodium and fat. Food from the Earth has been a real blessing and has really opened our eyes about the quality of the food we offer. We want to help those in need, but giving them foods that are bad for their health is hardly helping anyone,” New Path Program Coordinator Sherry Loschi said. “So often, food pantries are filled with food other people didn’t want or the least expensive foods a donor can find. Rarely do we receive donations of healthy foods that will be a help to one’s body.”
Loschi notes that many health problems can be linked back to people’s diets.
“Most health problems stem from a poor diet and if people don’t have access to healthy foods they cannot choose to eat healthy,” Loschi said. “Obesity, adult onset diabetes and high cholesterol and even heart problems stem from a poor diet and lack of exercise. Poor diet has a huge impact on our health and no one is more challenged than those who are dependent on the kindness of others.”
Food from the Earth Community Garden operates much like other community supported agriculture programs except they donate between 10-20 percent of their yield to The New Path food pantry each week. HarvestShare-Holders purchase shares of land at the beginning of the growing season and each week donate their percentage for the needy.
“This is a financially sustainable model that allows us to make donations of high-quality, naturally-grown, local produce to the food pantry throughout the summer,” Food from the Earth garden coordinator and ministry leader, Erin McKenzie said. “Ginghamsburg Church had the land available and New Path food pantry was interested in a direct way to receive fresh produce, and it was an opportunity for other gardeners and myself to use our passion of gardening to help service the community.”
Unlike a traditional “community garden,” the Food from the Earth garden is not subdivided into plots for individuals, families or individual groups where they individually plan, maintain, and harvest their own produce. Instead, McKenzie decides, based on input from shareholders and the food pantry clients, how much and what to grow in the entire garden. Then, shareholders and other Ginghamsburg Church and Tipp City community gardeners come alongside to help her complete the work. There are currently 25 gardeners that are currently involved in the shared garden. The shared garden still has 5 full or 10 half-shares available for interested gardeners.
“Local food production programs like ours provide direct access to naturally-grown, local produce to food pantry clients, who more frequently must choose from canned and boxed goods, McKenzie continued. “The program reconnects people with the land and our agrarian past by bringing people out to the garden to work and harvest and strengthens community bonds through food, faith, and work.”
The gardening season will continue throughout the season until mid-October.
For more information regarding the community garden, contact Erin McKenzie at (937) 668-1364 or visit their website at http://foodfromtheearth.wordpress.com or their Facebook page at https://wwwfacebook.com/FoodfromtheEarth.
For more information regarding the New Path food pantry, contact Sherry Loschi at (937) 669-1213 or visit their website at http://www.newpathoutreach.org.