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Farmers Raise Veggies For Food Bank
Steve and Nicky Breum have found a new market for their farm-raised vegetables. This past year their Gone Green Farms delivered more than 35,700 lbs. of potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets and onions to local and regional food banks.
“In the past, we had considered giving extras to the food bank, but we had to have a way to cover our costs,” says Breum. “We set up the Alberta Farm to Food Bank website. It collects donations that go to Alberta food banks. They use the money to purchase vegetables from us at $1 per pound.”
The Breums provide the website and cover administrative costs, such as advertising. However, the money goes directly to the food banks.
“When someone donates $1, they know that it buys a pound of food,” says Breum. “In 2019, we delivered 14,414 lbs. to the Edmonton food bank and 21,380 lbs. to the Calgary Food Bank. That was up 14 percent over 2018.”
Breum notes that most of the donations are small amounts from individuals. They have also received larger donations from several companies. As yet, the donations have not kept pace with deliveries.
“In 2018 we received about $6,000 in revenue and took the rest in charity receipts against taxes,” reports Breum. “This past year we had nearly $29,000 in gross revenue. While we still can’t make a living on it, it has grown 500 percent in a year.”
The Breums raise about 4 acres of vegetables along with an acre of potatoes. This coming year they plan to increase the potato patch to 2 acres. In addition to food bank sales, they also sell U-pick vegetables to local customers at $1.50 per pound.
“The biggest challenge with the root crops for the food banks is harvest,” says Bruem. “With all the moisture in the fall the past couple years, it’s been hard to get everything out of the ground. We are big enough now that we need to mechanize harvest.”
While making a living is necessary, Bruem notes that the reaction they’ve received has been nearly as important. “We’ve gotten email after email from people who’ve used the food banks or their families have,” says Breum. “The positive feedback provides such an emotional return. It hardly seems to matter if it pays or not.”
Breum encourages other market gardeners to work with local food banks on similar programs. He has heard about similar programs in the United States.
“We’ve talked with other food banks and suggested that if they start a program like this, they should look for a little grower just starting out and help get them going,” says Bruem. “If our program grows enough, we hope to bring other small Alberta growers into it.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gone Green Farms, RR#2, Westerose, Alta. Canada T0C 2V0 (ph 780 312-6073; info@albertafarmtofoodbank.com; www.albertafarmtofoodbank.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #2