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Stories from the Farm Road – Mainers Feeding Mainers Program Spotlight

Mainers Feeding Mainers, Good Shepherd Food Bank’s farm partnership program, is kicking off its 12th growing season! Each year, the Food Bank contracts with nearly 80 farmers across our 16 counties and commits to purchasing products to be distributed through its statewide network of more than 500 hunger-relief partner agencies. In 2020, we sourced 2.1 million pounds of food from local farmers, investing $982,000 into Maine’s agricultural economy.

From the farm and sea to Mainers in need

While the majority of the Mainers Feeding Mainers product goes to the Food Bank’s two distribution centers as inventory for food pantry orders, an increasing amount of locally grown food is being delivered directly by farmers to hunger-fighting locations in their backyards. The Food Bank coordinates direct deliveries to schools, healthcare centers, and even senior living facilities.

Over 22,000 pounds of Mainers Feeding Mainers’ product was delivered directly to healthcare partners, through our Community Health and Hunger Program. Four of those partners received 4,500 pounds given to them directly by their local farmers, which decreases transportation times and increases the shelf life of the produce. Local farmers also delivered directly to 12 school program partners and three senior centers.

The seeds are planted, the crops are growing, we’re excited to see what our farmers produce.

Each year we visit our farmers to highlight their amazing work, show what’s growing and where it’s being distributed. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram for #FarmerFridays, where all summer long we highlight our farm partners each Friday.

To get Farmer Fridays started, here’s a throwback to our farm visits in 2020.

For more information about our Mainers Feeding Mainers Program please go here.

The Chipman family has been a Mainers Feeding Mainers partner for ten years and has donated over 10,000 lbs. of food. A variety of summer squash, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, apples, lettuce, onions, winter squash, green peppers, corn, and melons have made their way to the Food Bank’s distribution centers, Poland Community Food Pantry and 7th Day Adventist Food Pantry throughout all the years they’ve been supporting our network.

Bill and Holly Lombardi and their adorable friend, CoCo, of Sani E Felici Farm (“Healthy and Happy Farm” in Italian), are new Mainers Feeding Mainers partners. Last growing season, they distributed around 2,000 lbs. directly to Come Spring Food Pantry, Washington Food Bank, and Bread for the Journey – Warren Food Pantry. Produce includes beets, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers, snow peas, string beans, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.

The Ripley family has been a Mainers Feeding Mainers partner for four years. They have distributed over 35,000 lbs. of food to Corinna UMC Food Pantry, Dover-Foxcroft Food Cupboard, Harmony Cares Food Pantry, UMC Ecumenical Food Cupboard-Milo, UUC Sangerville Food Pantry, and Mayo Regional Hospital. Produce includes lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, summer squash, winter squash, potatoes, peppers, and carrots.

When we dropped by for a visit, farmer Johanna Burdet was a busy bee harvesting onions and getting ready to open their farm stand for the day, but took some time to show us around.

2020 marked their third year as a Mainers Feeding Mainers program partner. The farm has distributed over 6,000 lbs. directly to the Apostolic Bible Church Food Pantry and the Palmyra Baptist Worship Center Soup Kitchen. Produce includes cucumbers, carrots, greens, onions, melons, summer squash, winter squash, and potatoes.

We met with Jay Robinson who has been a Mainers Feeding Mainers partner from the beginning; totaling ten years with us. We were impressed by his very tall corn stalks.

Over the years he’s distributed over 60,621 lbs. of winter squash directly to Starks Food Pantry, People Who Care Food Cupboard, Care & Share Food Closet, and our Auburn distribution center.

We met with Frank Thomas, as a first-year partner, Frank showed us around his impressive family-owned farm. We watched fresh produce be picked, cleaned, and boxed. This year, Thomas Farm will be sending rutabagas and winter squash to our Hampden distribution center to then be distributed to our northern partner network.

Our next farmer spotlight will have you ready for fall apples. Glenn and Cheryl Chalkley of The Lion’s Farm, LLC in Corinth, Maine, welcomed us to their farm on a beautiful day where they showed us around their apple and pear orchard.

As Mainers Feeding Mainers partners since 2015, they’ve distributed over 16,000 lbs. directly to Widows & Orphans, Safe Place Community and Samaritan Inc. Produce includes cucumbers, apples, pears, blueberries, winter squash, zucchini, sweet corn, and beets.

King Hill Farm provides produce and recipes each week to Blue Hill Hospital for them to share with patients and has been a great partner to work with. Overall, the farm has distributed 15,000 lbs. of food directly to Tree of Life Food Pantry & Turn-Style Thrift Shop and Blue Hill Hospital.

We visited Megan and Sara at Twin Villages Foodbank Farm at the beginning of the summer when they were preparing seedlings. Now, they’re busy harvesting and storing carrots, beets, Delicata squash, Sibley squash, butternuts, onions, and peppers!

They’ve been Mainers Feeding Mainers partners for four years. We’ve purchased more than 25,000 pounds of produce from them to distribute to our partner network. And donated over 25,000 lbs. directly to Jefferson Area Community Food Pantry, Newcastle Ecumenical Food Pantry, Waldoboro Food Pantry, St. Phillips Church Food Pantry, Boothbay Regional Food Pantry, and St. Denis & Full Gospel Food Pantry. Produce includes but is not limited to cabbage, summer and winter squash, greens, beets, corn, and onions.