Readying the long rows of the FEAST Farm garden for planting first required hand weeding of an unidentified plant that had sprung up atop two of the rows and appeared to be on the verge of going to seed. The garden is located on property at the confluence of the Stevens Branch and the Winooski River out by Agway just off Route 2 behind the Home Farm building.
Farm Manager David Hershberger noted the good news: the 18-inch-high invaders could be easily and cleanly pulled from the soil. With the help of Benjamin Gress, who is the Farm & Forest Community Coordinator via AmeriCorps, and volunteer Jasmine Armstrong, he expected the weeding would be done within a couple hours.
What the FEAST Farm Grows
During the summer of 2020, FEAST Farm grew more than 1,000 pounds of fresh produce specifically to provide the FEAST Senior Meals kitchen with organic local ingredients.
The other product of the project is expanded gardening experience for the volunteers who are critical to the farm’s success. Montpelier Parks Supervisor Jacqueline Huettenmoser said, “We will be in need of volunteer help throughout the growing season!” Community members wanting to lend a hand in the gardens should contact Huettenmoser to be included on the volunteer listserve: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This year we are growing for both the FEAST Senior Meals Program and the Montpelier Food Pantry,” Huettenmoser said. “We have been coordinating with these organizations as well as Community Harvest of Central Vermont to grow where there are gaps in need. We’ve also been working with Tom Sabo to get local kids out to FEAST Farm to have a hand in growing for their neighbors.”
How the Project is Nourished
The entire project is supported through the collaboration of several organizations and generous private donations and grants. In addition to the oversight by the staff of Montpelier Parks, other organizations participating with the farm include the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), which supports AmeriCorps workers; Just Basics, providing the food shelf operation hosted at Trinity Methodist Church; the Montpelier Senior Activity Center; and Meals on Wheels.
“Pretty much all of what we are doing, including hiring Dave as a farm manager, is funded by small grants. We would like to thank the Vermont Community Foundation and SeedMoney for generously helping us get started this season,” Huettenmoser said.