HARVARD-- The Farm to Friend program is seeking community support after its growth over the year has prompted the need for more donated produce for local families.
Farm to Friend, a 10-week program, is part of the Harvard Farmers Market. Local farmers bring their surplus crops and donate them to low-income families and seniors in town.
Three years ago, Kim Manning, director and founder of Farm to Friend, noticed many farmers at the market had excess vegetables and fruit at the end of each day. She decided to ask for donations to provide needy Harvard residents with fruits and vegetables.
"We are extremely excited that the Farm to Friend program is such a success and our neighbors have fresh vegetables and fruits to enjoy throughout the harvest season," said Manning.
She spoke to the director of Council on Aging, Deborah Thompson, who has access to a database of families that are low-income, to help her create a recipient list.
"It's for people who are homebound and really can't get out and go shopping," said Thompson. "Some of the seniors don't cook anymore so we get them fresh produce they can eat."
Most recipients are seniors but the program is open to all families in need.
This year, Farm to Friend is asking the community for produce donations to accommodate the growing need. They are also asking for monetary donations for operational supplies such as bags to carry the food.
"We ask that the community keep us in mind when they are gardening," said Manning.
In 2012, Middlesex Saving Bank became the corporate sponsor. This allowed Farm to Friend to expand its reach to Fitchburg's Our Father's House emergency shelter and Transitions in Devens, a shelter for women and children.
Farm to Friend added another program last winter that was specifically for seniors. Soup for Seniors provides Harvard seniors with healthy soup options cooked with ingredients from local farms.
Harvard Schools Chef Paul Correnty prepares and sells soups in the winter to raise money for school lunches. Soups for Seniors buys the soup every three weeks and delivers it to the elderly.
"There are some seniors that can't digest certain foods, so Chef Paul makes purees for them," said Thompson.
Manning said that Chef Paul also makes broth that helps people who are ill and, "can't keep anything down."
Last year, Farm to Friend hosted a dinner party for seniors at Bromfield School. The program and the COA donated money to Chef Paul to prepare the meal. High school students volunteered to serve food and spend time with the seniors.
"It was great to be able to include the seniors in these activities," said Manning. "Sometimes they can be forgotten."
Manning said she hopes to get enough monetary donations to have the dinner party again this year.
For information on how to donate or volunteer for Farm to Friend, contact Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org or Thompson at 978-456-4120.