MALONE — It was a successful year for the Garden Stand operated by Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties’ (JCEO) Food Services Program.
This was the agency’s first attempt at growing a garden to provide fresh vegetables to the community and local food pantries.
JCEO’s Garden Stand opened the first week of July and closed on Sept. 11. The staff, with help from various volunteers, was able to grow and sell more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce provided to clients and 43 food pantries located throughout Franklin, Clinton, Essex and St. Lawrence counties.
More than 20,000 people received fresh produce from the garden.
Looking back at the results of the first year, Dick LaVigne, director of JCEO’s Food Services Program, said they had reached their goal of having more than 20 different choices of vegetables for customers to pick from.
He mentioned that the Food Services team, along with volunteers, harvested the remaining vegetables in the garden and prepared them for winter storage.
Among them were three kinds of squash, beets, and turnips.
Looking at next year’s growing season, LaVigne said they will do a better job. The Food Services Program, he said, will have sufficient amounts of vegetables ready to pick when the stand re-opens.
The director said the first-year experiment helped them learn more about the planting, growing and harvesting season for each kind of vegetable.
“We learned a lot this year,” he said, “It was quite an experience for us, and there are things we will do differently.”
SEED PLANTER NEEDED
To reach next year’s goal of having adequate crops, the Food Services Program is searching for a better seed planter, which will allow them to significantly increase next year’s harvest.
“It would be great for us … because the planter we use now is about 40 years old. We really need one,” La Vigne said.
JCEO’s Food Services Program is looking for any grants or funds that will help them to purchase a new seed planter.
“We are hoping to get one through (a) grant,” he said.
Learn more about the program and how to donated money for the seed planter by emailing Kathy Bishop at Bishop@jceo.org.