In 2019 at a Transition Town Jericho meeting, Tucker Andrews, a local farmer, highlighted his frustration of not being able to find the labor to get gleaned produce out of the field and into the hands of those who need it. TTJ approached Tucker with the promise to do just that. During the Spring of 2020, Tucker announced that he would plant an extra row of butternut squash for donation.
With a good growing season under our belt, the squash was ready to harvest, and the weather was threatening to freeze the crop if we did not get it out of the fields quickly.
Laura from TTJ, contacted past TTJ participants and was able to round up 12 volunteers on short notice. On a Sunday afternoon, in one hour those 12 people harvested:
584 squash: on average, 2.5 lbs each; total weight 1460 lbs. (estimate)
After making arrangements with local food distribution agencies, the squash was divided between:
-Jericho/Underhill/Essex Food shelf, 50-80 families are fed once each month
-The Janet S. Munt Family Room, they feed 110 families a week
-Feeding Chittenden, 12,000 people are fed every year.
With such a success, Tucker wants to pursue this again in 2021. He said, “The partnership this year was a great start on something that could be an important aspect of food security in our community.”
If we could establish a mindset like that with other farmers, they may be willing to do more in support of the community, as they know the community supports them.
We’d like this not to be a fad, but to be a generation to generation sustaining behavior that supports the farmers and the local economy. Could we build such a model?
And finally, as Irene from TTJ posted on Facebook, “Thanks to Transition Town Jericho members and friends who picked 584 butternut squash on a beautiful Sunday afternoon from the rows planted by farmer Tucker Andrews, exclusively to feed our neighbors. Job well done by everyone.”
I finally got to see firsthand the Edible Landscape Project in Jericho Center, putting in some volunteer time last weekend (pulling lamb’s quarters from a compost heap, kind of fun!) On Brown’s Trace Road adjoining Mobb’s Farm, the project boasts plenty of space, as well as its share of challenges. (Read below about volunteer needs).
According to co-organizer Ann Gnagey, the site was a quarry years ago and the town dump after that, so the topsoil is compromised. She says, “we are working hard to make it more productive. In addition, we would like to establish native plants and sources of food for people and wildlife in the future. With challenges like climate change and uncertain food supplies, these kinds of activities will become important for the future of the people in our town.”
With the goal of establishing small scale food production using native fruit and nut trees, berries and pollinator plants, she and husband/co-organizer Tom Baribault, have already made some headway having planted to date: 100 feet of potatoes, four blueberry bushes, cranberry, elderberry, black walnut, asters, violets and poppies.
It was great to see the land, and to meet Kurt Melin, the very supportive neighbor (new dad and avid gardener himself) and I do hope to get back there for some more slightly grungy, yet rewarding work!
Ann and Tom are seeking more volunteers to help. Here are specifics on upcoming workdays, from Ann:
The next two weekends we will meet at the project site (across from 501 Browns Trace) from 10:00 to 11:30 am Saturday, Sept 18 and 26. (In case of rain, we will meet the following days, Sept 19 and 27.)
Activities: Plant trees, shrubs, wildflowers and learn the challenges of establishing native plants on land that has been neglected and soils impoverished.
What to bring: face mask, gloves, water to drink, tools (any of the following would be helpful: shovel, hoe, or spading fork, 5-gallon plastic bucket)
Work to be done: dig holes, haul compost, carry water, plant trees, shrubs, and wildflowers
We would be happy to give advice (and possibly plants and seeds) to people who wish to establish an edible landscape at the own home.
To sign up, contact Ann Gnagey or Tom Baribault at 899-6736
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com