Salida nonprofit Colorado Farm to Table announced it donated more than 130,000 pounds of locally grown produce this year at no cost to 109,000 individuals who are struggling with hunger in Chaffee County and across Colorado.
With the help of 82 volunteers, Farm to Table harvested a variety of vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli, kale, sweet corn, acorn squash, summer squash and zucchini, a press release stated.
The produce was distributed to soup kitchens, churches, food banks, pantries and other aid-focused organizations. Those partners re-distributed to at-risk families and individuals in eight Colorado counties, including Chaffee County. The efforts resulted in 438,000 servings of food to Coloradans who weren’t sure where their next meal would come from.
Colorado Farm to Table is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The farm was founded by Tony Madone Jr. in 1996 as a 2-acre garden plot and eventually grew into the current 15-acre operation. Today, it is directed by farm manager Thomas J. “T.J.” McDaniel. A native of Kansas, he brings expertise from orchards and market gardens, as well as large-scale agricultural operations.
McDaniel said Madone inspired him. “When Tony first explained to me the vision for the farm, I knew I wanted to be involved with an organization that has such a unique hunger relief mission,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel is joined by assistant farmer Sarah Kurmin, who draws upon her experience in small- scale regenerative and perennial agriculture, as well as market farming. Kurmin, who was raised in Ohio and Colorado, also coordinates the volunteers who help with farm operations, ranging from planting seeds to harvesting vegetables to working in the greenhouse.
“We are so fortunate to have such a devoted group of volunteers. They have different backgrounds and skills, and they’re all passionate about food security and making sure people who need it can access nutritious food. There is such a sense a community on our volunteer days that makes the whole experience really special,” said Kurmin.
Volunteers have donated more than 2,070 hours of their time this year. “The board of directors looks forward to building an enthusiastic team of excellence to lead Colorado Farm to Table to a sustainable future – growing nutritious food, expanding distribution and building collaborative partnerships so the organization can extend its impact into Chaffee County and other regions of Colorado,” said Lisa McGrew Siegfried, board president and acting executive director.
To learn about volunteering on the farm, serving on the board of directors or making a financial donation, visit coloradofarmtotable.org.