Every year, High Mowing donates a huge quantity of seeds and produce. The donations end up in the hands of recipients ranging in distance from just across the driveway to places as far-flung as Haiti. These donations are an integral part of what we do and help us achieve our goal of being good stewards to our local and not-so-local communities.
Seeds, not surprisingly, make up a large portion of our donations. This year we donated over 54,000 packets of seeds to schools, communities, and farmer training programs. Of that total, 11,000 packets went to FoodCorps, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching kids about healthy food by building school gardens and sourcing quality local food for school cafeterias. FoodCorps has been instrumental in channeling our seeds into the hands of the food system leaders of tomorrow – next season these tiny learning tools will grow in over 300 school gardens in 15 states.
As a farm-based seed company, we grow a tremendous amount of organic produce each year. We have fields for trialing new varieties, fields for breeding new varieties, fields for growing our seed crops, and fields for showcasing the existing varieties we carry – amounting to about 40 acres all together. And even though we offer an unlimited CSA to all of our staff (and the staff of several nearby businesses), we grow far more produce than we can consume. So we do our best to make sure that as little produce is wasted as possible, and donate whenever possible. We do this in three ways:
- We harvest our produce, then donate whatever isn’t taken home by staff
- We work with two organization that glean produce from our fields, Salvation Farms and the Vermont Foodbank, to harvest what we can’t
- We partner with organizations to use the fruit of seed crops after the seed is extracted
Through these means, we donated over 21,000 pounds of produce during the 2013 season. Of this total, 13,492 lbs of that produce was gathered by the Vermont Foodbank through twice-weekly volunteer gleanings from July to November, as well as from post-harvest pickups. The produce was then distributed to food shelves and pantries serving the nutritionally-insecure in the surrounding communities.
The other portion was gleaned from our fields by Salvation Farms, a local non-profit working to build food resiliency in Vermont by diverting unsalable, but still nutritious produce from the waste stream to those who need it most. Salvation Farms has started (and is working on expanding) the Vermont Commodity Project, which processes large quantities of gleaned local produce to sell at affordable prices to institutions like schools and hospitals. The produce is currently processed in an empty building at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Southern Vermont, and Salvation Farms utilizes inmate labor from the Vermont Offender Work Program to help process the produce. The Work Program came to High Mowing this year, and during two days in the fall harvested over 8047 pounds of winter squash and 460 pounds of peppers. Phew, that’s a lot of food!
Pies and Pumpkins
Our fantastic Social Mission and Education Coordinator, Koi Boynton, who manages our Seed Donation Program, also works to make sure that excess produce goes to the right place. This year she made sure that 400 pumpkins went home with 400 local schoolchildren. She also helped organize a great annual collaboration called Pies for People. For this project fruit from our pumpkin seed crop is processed by Pete’s Greens, then taken up to Sterling College where student volunteers turn it into pie filling and make crust using donated King Arthur Flour and Cabot Creamery butter. This year the resulting 180 pies were distributed to hungry Vermonters through the Center for the Agricultural Economy and Greater Hardwick Foodbank. We are so happy to continue this collaboration each year and look forward to supporting our community in even more ways in the future!
If you are involved in a organization that is interested in receiving seed donations, please contact us using our online donation form.