The JCEO Food Service Division planted 5 acres of corn, hundreds of tomato plants and more to supply 40 regional food pantries with fresh products.
Much of the corn is already peeking up through the soil in part of a large field Papas Farm leases from the Town of Malone behind the Malone Dufort Airport, which the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties is allowed to use, said Program Director Dick LaVigne.
He said the corn was planted over two weeks to stagger the time when the crops will be harvested.
The estimate yield for this season is 5,000 dozen ears of corn, LaVigne said.
Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower went into the ground this week off Creighton Road near rows of eggplant, beans, peas, beets, melons, peppers and cucumbers.
And flapping in the breeze in the next patch of earth is the colorful clothing worn by a scarecrow propped in the center of a smaller cornfield to ward off unwelcome guests.
LaVigne said other critters hoping to munch on the fresh crops will also be out of luck because the garden caretakers are leaving “all the things the varmints like to eat,” such as carrots, radishes, lettuce and scallions, inside their greenhouse to finish growing.
“All the rest of the plants we’ve grown are coming out here,” he said, referring the JCEO site.
The agency is also able to use an additional field near Giggles and Wiggles Daycare Center with the permission of owner Dave Warner.
“We’re going to have a lot of crops,” LaVigne said. “The amount of things we’re putting in is amazing.”
And all of it will go to food pantries that he said serve about 20,000 North Country families in Franklin, Clinton, Essex and St. Lawrence counties.
Heather Robinson, who is in charge of growing the greenhouse plants, said extras were raised to be used at a garden operated and maintained by Franklin Correctional Facility and for distribution to food-pantry clients who'd like to grow their own produce.
About 1,500 tomato, pepper and cucumber plants were sent to food pantries in Saranac Lake, Massena, Brushton-Moira, Norwood and Potsdam with the potential of providing fresh vegetables to as many as 500 people, she said.
Other extras were sold to the public before and after Memorial Day, which is a typical time that people start their gardens.
All of the money raised goes right back into the program to purchase seeds for the following year, Robinson said.
Some of the yield from this year’s gardens will also supply two roadside stands that JCEO will operate beginning July 1.
One is on Creighton Road, and a new one will be set up next to Kinney Drugs on Route 11 under a large tent.
College and high-school students will be hired to sell the goods, LaVigne said.
It will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday Friday and Saturday so as not to interfere with the Adirondack Farmers Market held Wednesdays at the airport pavilion.
Email Denise A. Raymo: email@example.com