📷 Roberta Watson, Director of the Saint John Paul II Food Pantry, attends an event to thank The Community Food Collaborative for donations of fresh produce during their successful first growing season. Photo courtesy Pauline White.
STURBRIDGE/SOUTHBRIDGE – Roberta Watson, director of the St. John Paul II Food Pantry, visited the Sturbridge Rotary Club recently and summarized the amount of fresh, organic vegetables delivered to the Food Pantry by the Community Food Collaborative (CFC).
“The total yield was 1,524 pounds from 20 different vegetables which generated a tremendous positive impact on those receiving this bounty” reported Roberta. “Favorites by the recipients were cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, zucchini, watermelons and winter squash. Those impacted by the CFC’s generosity each month were 831 people, which includes 164 seniors, and equates to an average of 310 households.
Volunteer workers and clients from the St. John Paul II Food Pantry are so thankful to this community effort. We received beautifully tended and harvested produce from July to November. Gardening is a labor of love, endurance and faith. These gardeners and garden tenders are very much appreciated.”
From the garden folks, the CFC feels proud of its accomplishment and especially for the health benefits received by those eating the fresh vegetables versus canned vegetables which typically contain lots of salt.
The CFC garden is the first project of the Rotary Community Corps of Sturbridge and Southbridge. The CFC is independently organized and operates totally by volunteers from the surrounding communities. The garden project was formed in the Fall of 2017 with its first planting season in the Spring of 2018. With a full slate of officers and over 90 volunteers, this group had a tremendous first growing season.
Three members of the CFC leadership team attending the Rotary Club meeting shared their thoughts: “In an effort to maximize our efforts, many hours were spent to get the garden infrastructure in place and learning the skill sets of who should be doing what. We’ve learned a lot this first growing season so we should be better able to improve on what we’re doing. Expanding the garden is our first priority in 2019. We’ve had very generous donors this year, not only with funds to purchase materials and equipment but with in-kind donations and very supportive volunteers. We are in the process of creating a formal drawing to present to the Town of Sturbridge for approval. Once approved we’ll look for estimates for excavation, fencing and irrigation. We’re not resting this winter. We want to keep the momentum going.”