Hinesburg grows Fresh Food Fund initiative

Mike Grillo (center) fills bags of fresh produce for the Hinesburg Food Shelf. Full Moon Farm owners David Zuckerman and Rachel Nevitt help prepare the shares donated by their regular CSA members.

By Robin Reid

Folks in the north-country welcome the flow of fresh, locally grown lettuce, spinach, radishes and herbs that begins in late May and early June. The Fresh Food Fund is a new collaborative between the Hinesburg Food Shelf and Full Moon Farm of Gilman Road. These two entities are working together to distribute four large CSA shares of fresh vegetables to food shelf clients. CSA shares provide seasonal produce through November. The Fresh Food Fund aims to support local agriculture by making purchases at market value from local farms and to consistently distribute the best and freshest foods to those in need.

The Fresh Food Fund seeks community support to ensure its long-term success. Several fundraisers are in the works to encourage participation in making this initiative possible. A community supper is scheduled at the Hinesburgh Public House on August 5. Please see www.hinesburghpublichouse.com/events for more information and stay tuned for other events. The Fresh Food Fund welcomes direct donations and information on how to make your contribution is provided below.

The Hinesburg Food Shelf (a division of the Hinesburg Community Resource Center—HCRC) is located at 51 Ballard’s Corner in a small warehouse. The building is owned by NRG and that company has generously dedicated the space exclusively to the food shelf. The Food Shelf is open Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Friday mornings from 9am-noon. There are approximately 280 families registered for the food shelf.  About 125 of those are regular monthly visitors. Food shelf clients may stock up once a month at any time the food shelf is open. The Hinesburg Food Shelf has over 30 volunteers who assist with the myriad duties including unloading and storing donated items, plus product from the Vermont Foodbank, to registering and walking clients through the in-stock selection of goods that will now include a varied and steady stream of seasonal vegetables.

Hinesburg resident Mike Grillo is the volunteer in charge of the Friday shift at the Hinesburg Food Shelf. On Wednesday afternoons, Grillo can be found at Full Moon Farm picking up the four CSA shares of fresh produce that go to the food shelf. He says, “Having been a cook, baker, and organic farmer, my particular interest and influence at the food shelf has been to encourage the addition of fresh local foods to the commodity foods offered at the food shelf.” Grillo also picks up fresh produce on Mondays for Tuesday distribution at the food shelf. He has also made arrangements with Full Moon Farm for “gleaning rights,” meaning that produce left in the field can be harvested by volunteers for distribution to food shelf clients. Extra vegetables that Full Moon Farm doesn’t sell at their Saturday Farmers Market in Burlington are donated to the Hinesburg Food Shelf.

Full Moon Farm is a labor of love and lifestyle for married couple David Zuckerman and Rachel Nevitt. Full Moon Farm’s CSA is in its fifteenth year of production and now serves up to 300 members. Initially, Full Moon Farm went through the incubator program at Burlington’s Intervale. The program helps serious upstart farmers find sustainable markets for their produce and, as in the case of Full Moon Farm, helps to identify future farm locations that fit with the farmers’ plans for expansion. The permanent location at 2083 Gilman Road in Hinesburg is a former 155-acre dairy farm. Currently, 60 acres are used in the vegetable growing rotation with about 30 acres in active production each year. Additionally, Full Moon Farm raises and processes on site at least 1,000 chickens for meat. They also raise approximately 100 pigs. For more information please visit www.fullmoonfarminc.com.

The new Fresh Food Fund partnership with Full Moon Farm is making a lot of people very happy. Grillo reports that “people at the food shelf really go for the greens!”

For more information on the Hinesburg Food Shelf please see http://www.hinesburg.org/hfs.html.  To make a donation to the Fresh Food Fund you may send a check to the Fresh Food Fund, HCRC Food Shelf, PO Box 444, Hinesburg, VT  05461. Please make checks payable to the HCRC Food Shelf.