Food Bank Farming at Heritage Farm with Clark County Food Bank
The Clark County Food Bank exists to “alleviate hunger and its root causes in Clark County, Washington.” Farm and garden projects like the 78th Street Heritage Farm and gleaning programs help to do that by increasing the amount of fresh, nutritious food entering the emergency food system, localizing the source of our emergency food supply, and engaging and educating the community.
In 2009, the Clark County Food Bank decided to make it a priority to provide healthy whole fruits and vegetables by growing carrots at 78th Street Heritage Farm, hosting high school horticulture classes, and establishing a two-acre vegetable garden with Churches in Partnership, which yields 50,000 pounds annually. Carrots were selected due to their long storage life, popularity, nutritional profile, and successful growing record in this area. Over 11 miles of carrots were planted, with average annual yields of 35,000-50,000 pounds of food.
In June, the fields are prepared for the carrots and then the seeds are sown in weekly increments to extend the harvest season. By early August, thousands of feathery, leafy, green carrot tops have emerged. The first crop is harvested in August and the last of the carrots are harvested in early November. Every Saturday during the harvest season, from 9am to 12pm, volunteers are invited to harvest, wash, and bag carrots.
Historically, the 78th Street Heritage Farm was run as a poor farm where people experiencing hard times could be housed and fed. The food bank garden continues in that spirit to feed needy people in our community. Volunteers aged two to ninety-two have come out to get their hands dirty. The farm draws hundreds of volunteers from a wide variety of groups: churches, Girl & Boy Scout Troops, local businesses, service organizations, students, interested community members, Restorative Justice Youth, and Larch Correctional Crews.