The Belly Bus came to Greenfield Town Common on Friday. When I dropped off my donations Sara Cummings of Franklin County Community Action told they had already collected almost TWO TONS of non-perishable foodstuff and more food was still coming in.
Families First brought in their cartons of donations and other groups were waiting to drop theirs off. The Belly Bus helps stock local food pantry shelves; at this time of the year pantries are nearly empty. And this year, as we all know, the need is greater than ever. Happily the response to the need was greater in amount of food collected, as well as monetary donations.
On Sunday over six hundred people lined up with their plates and cutlery and prepared to dig in to the wonderful meal at the 9th Annual Free Harvest Supper. They might as well have been at a swanky party because volunteers walked up and down the waiting line with platters of gorgeous fruits, vegetables, cheese and hearty bread. Tom Clark and his son Ben strolled around handing out apples.
All the produce was donated by local farms and prepared by local restaurants. It was all delicious. It was also good to know that the cold rainy weather this summer didn’t destroy all the crops. There was such abundance on those tables.
Lots of eating. And for those of the young set who might finish quickly, there was Vi Walker the clown making balloon headdresses, Janice Sorenson painting faces and Shenandoah Hoops for twirling. For those who were a little older, we could get our blood pressure taken and shop at the Really Really Free Store. I brought blueberries and took away cukes, potatoes and peppers. Our ears were happy too, listening to Pat and Tex LaMountain and John Currie.
I considered Daniel Botkin of Laughing Dog Farm with his delicious peaches and stories about his squash, a kind of stand in for ALL the many many farmers who donated vegetables, pickles, fruit and flowers. Ice cream for dessert!
Can you imagine that even with all this joyous eating, people were invited to go back for seconds? And fill up containers to take away. I wish I brought one.
I would have taken home some colorful tomatoes. I only have the very green variety.
There is always work to do at the front and back ends of an event like this. Karl Meyer was part of the compost/recycling crew. Bear Path Farm in Whately was going to have more compost makings.
The good will of this event doesn’t end when the canopies and tables are all packed away. Donations and Raffle money will go to the Greenfield Farmers Market Coupon Program that will allow low income families to recieve vouchers they can spend at the Farmer’s Market. Families get healthy food, and the farmers get support. Everyone wins. For more information about the Free Harvest Supper logon to their website www.freeharvestsupper.org.
There is another way to help stuggling families get healthy fresh produce. This morning I went out a picked a colandar full of beans and a quart of blueberries to donate to the Center for Self Reliance as part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry project.
It isn’t much, but it is what I have to share. Whether or not gardeners have planted a real row of vegetables with the intention of donating that harvest to a food pantry, or just have some extra harvest that they can’t put by, we gardeners have an opportunity to help give those in need some healthy fresh produce, the kind of thing the food pantries have trouble providing. For a full list of organizations, food pantries and meal sites that are accepting produce, and their hours, logon to www.plantarowwmass.com. Whether you live in Greenfield, South Deerfield, Ashfield, Northfield, Turners Falls, Erving, or Bernardston there is a site near you.
As Snoopy famously queried, “Is there any reason why mealtime should not be a joyous occasion?” we gardeners have a chance to put some joy on dinner tables other than our own.