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Food Bank Farm

Cathy Duchamp

Do you have to be rich to eat healthy? The Pierce County Emergency Food network is addressing the issue head on--- with the nationís first-ever Food Bank farm. More than 100,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables are harvested each year. The produce is distributed EXCLUSIVELY to food banks and kitchens that serve the poor. KUOWís Cathy Duchamp reports.

THE CONCEPT IS SIMPLE: GIVE THE BEST FOOD TO THE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT THE MOST. Today we are harvesting kale and collard greens and lettuce and radishes and yellow dragonís tongue beans and a multitude of different summer squashes. CARRIE LITTLE MANAGES THE MOTHER EARTH FARM, WHICH BEGAN LAST YEAR, WITH THE DONATION OF 8 ACRES OF FARMLAND THATíS TILLED TO FEED THE HUNGRY THROUGH LOCAL FOOD BANKS. THE VEGETABLES PICKED TODAY WILL BE ON THE TABLE TOMORROW AT TWO HOT MEAL SITES. IT TAKES A HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR IN DONATIONS TO RUN THE FARM IN THE SHADOW OF MOUNT RAINIER. LITTLE SELECTS THE CROPS THAT GENERATE THE HIGHEST YIELDS. BUT ALSO THINGS THAT WILL REMIND PEOPLE OF HOME: I had taken a huge lo ad of Russian tomatoes last year. Everyone else thought they were rotted but the Russian folks at the food bank just started singing. Oh someone else is into Black Russian tomatoes. Theyíre just mind blowingly delicious. This would be a good section of kale to go after. Trucks right over there if you want to get boxes. Who would like to do squash. VOLUNTEERS ARE THE MUSCLE AT THE MOTHER EARTH FARM. THIS DAY CRISPY KALE AND SQUASH ARE PICKED BY WOMEN FROM THE PURDY STATE PRISON. POTATOES ARE PICKED BY A GROUP OF CHILDREN FROM SOUTH HILL CHRISTIAN CHURCH. LITTLE SAYS LAST YEAR 1,000 PEOPLE CAME TO HELP PLANT, WEED AND HARVEST, INCLUDING REGULARS, LIKE KATIE HINMAN, WHO CALLS IT A GROUNDING THING. Thereís just something about putting your hands in the dirt and picking out food and you can just eat it. Itís a completely different experience from sitting in front of a computer in an office which is what I was doing before. [is it an added bonus that it goes to foodbanks] absolutely. You think about how many people go hungry everyday. All the homeless people, and people who canít afford good food, and they go to the store with their foodstamps and get really unhealthy food, its not good and yet we have the resources, the land the food to feed these people really well. And so that makes a huge difference. THE NEXT DAY, THE KALE THAT HINMAN PICKS IS TRUCKED TO THE HOSPITALITY KITCHEN IN TACOMAíS HILLTOP NEIGHBORHOOD. A PLACE WHERE WORKING POOR CAN STRETCH THEIR DOLLARS BY GETTING A FREE MEAL. ON THE MENU TODAY.. POPPYSEED CHICKEN, RICEÖ AND GREENS. PREPARED BY 71 YEAR OLD MA BELL: Itís really healthy for the body. lots of vitamins in there. And I just chop it up lots of onions and garlic Make it nice for my people for my kids ha ha MA BELL HAS BEEN VOLUNTEERING HERE FOR 21 YEARS. SHE GREW UP IN THE U-S VIRGIN ISLANDS, WHERE SHE LIVED OFF WHAT SHE GREW IN THE GARDEN: We grow everything bananas. Lettuce. Mangoes. I love that to go home and lay in the house and hear the mangos falling on the house. MA BELL GETS HELP CHOPPING SEVERAL BINS OF GREENS FROM A CHURCH YOUTH GROUP. MOST OF THE TEENS HAVENíT TRIED MA BELLíS GREENS. BUT SHE SAYS CUSTOMERS HERE HAVE COME TO LOVE THEM. IMPORTANT, BECAUSE MA BELL AIMS TO PLEASE: Well it makes me happy to make somebody else happy. You know when you make somebody smile itís a good feeling. So we send the praises up to God and he sends the blessings down. Have a nice day.