Farm Credit East has always been active in the Northeast agriculture community, but this summer, the financial cooperative's involvement in the local community took a unique approach. Along with participation in county fairs, sponsorships of 4-H chapters and various other activities, the organization has been growing fresh produce to donate to local communities.
"We had two vacant greenhouses in New York, along with the skills and available staff to put these greenhouses into production, so we got to work," said Eric Pohlman, Farm Credit East vice president. "This has been a great opportunity for us to partner with local organizations and produce food to give back to those in need."
The first greenhouse is located in Newark, N.Y., and the other is in the Utica, N.Y., area. The financial cooperative has been growing Swiss chard, watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, lettuce and a few other items to donate back to the community. Approximately 120 pounds of fresh-picked produce are currently being distributed per week. Recipients include the Food Bank of Central New York and the Catholic Charities of Wayne County.
"Fresh produce is often difficult for food-insecure homes to acquire. Eastern Greenhouses' donations of fresh vegetables help us get nutritious food to the people in our community who need it the most," stated Brian McManus, perishables distribution manager at Food Bank of Central New York.
"It's not every day an organization calls you to say they have a building they want to use to produce food for those in need free of charge," commented Timothy Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of Wayne County. "The partnership with Farm Credit East was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. It has enabled us to provide quality, fresh-picked produce to our food pantry, as well as to other organizations throughout the community, that we wouldn't have had otherwise."