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“Potato Project” Harvests Fresh Spuds For Foodbanks
“Our goal is to donate 1 million pounds of potatoes and other fresh vegetables a year to local foodbanks,” says Linda Zawaski about The Potato Project she and her husband Walt started in 2009. The Pennsylvania couple got the idea after reading a news story about a farmer who let people glean his fields after harvest.
“We had a little bit of acreage and we thought we could do something with that,” she recalls. Walt planted a few acres of potatoes and Linda connected with local churches to recruit volunteers to help harvest and bag the potatoes.
With limited acres to work with, the project may have ended that first year, without the “blessings from the Holy Spirit,” Zawaski says. A pastor from another church saw the Potato Project sign at the end of the driveway and stopped in to ask about it. He offered 12 acres for the project.
Since then the acreage each year has varied but reached about 75 acres one year and they’ve had as many as 1,000 volunteers. Besides potatoes, the group has added other crops, including sweet corn, carrots, and beans.
“It’s a big help to the food bank. They have been increasing the amount of fresh food products they provide,” Zawaski says.
She and other helpers feed a simple lunch to people who help harvest. It includes french fries cut fresh from the potatoes.
“This started as a faith-based project. It has become a family and multigenerational event with various denominations and different clubs and even people from nearby colleges. We are blessed to spend time together,” Zawaski says. Volunteers choose from different harvest weekends to help. The Potato Project continues to attract new volunteers including FARM SHOW reader Phil Whitmoyer.
“When I saw how their organization works, I was somewhat blown away. They have been adapting whatever equipment becomes available to them to get the job done,” he says. “Perhaps readers might have extra equipment they could donate. Some of their newer equipment is 1940’s vintage, so there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Other than a new Kubota tractor that was donated, the equipment is old, including tractors, planters, and harvesting equipment. In addition to vegetables, some row crops are planted to sell to help fund the non-profit organization’s needs. Its website includes a wish list of items to make planting/harvesting more efficient. Cash donations are welcome as well.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, IHartHarvest, Inc., The Potato Project, 1892 Moselem Springs Rd., Hamburg, Penn. 19526 (ph 484 648-0381; www.IHartHarvest.org; IHartHarvest@gmail.com).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #6