[Episcopal Diocese of Olympia] The Food Bank Farm, a ministry of Church of the Holy Cross in Redmond, Washington, will set records this year, topping the 98,000 lbs harvested in 2013. This year’s harvest includes some carrots, beets, and potatoes, but mostly acorn squash – rows and rows of acorn squash. “The estimate for 2014 is 130,000 pounds from eight acres,” said Ed Allen, one of the dozen volunteers from the Diocese of Olympia‘s Church of the Holy Cross who was present to check in and shepherd the harvesters. “We estimate that at over 600,000 servings.”
The Food Bank Farm was started by the Rev. “Farmer” Jim Eichner and Church of the Holy Cross in 2011 with 12 volunteers, on land in the Snohomish river valley leased from Chinook Farms; land owned by Eric Fritch from St. John’s Church in Snohomish. They harvested 3,750 lbs the first year. This year’s acorn squash harvest will be distributed through Food Lifeline to many of its 350 food pantry partners around western Washington.
Several hundred volunteers through United Way of King County’s “Day of Caring” arrived at the Food Bank Farm in two shifts on Friday, Sept. 19 – volunteers from AT&T, National Frozen Foods and Allstate. Members of the women’s softball team from Bellevue College, AmeriCorps volunteers from WithinReach, and Nurses Squashing Hunger, Nordstroms, Trilogy International, and Microsoft, were also represented.
Church of the Holy Cross and Eichner provide the leadership. Chinook Farms provides the tractor (and driver) to move and collect the large bins that hold 800 lbs each. Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm across the road provides the port-a-potties and 75 wheelbarrows.
In addition to today’s acorn squash harvest, members of Holy Cross have been harvesting throughout the season in small quantities and delivering the produce to a local food bank in Maltby. “You really feel like you’re doing something,” said Bonnie Allen, who, with her husband, has been helping out for the past two years.
— Dede Moore is Canon for Operations/Communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.