A few words about the success of this season and some projects we hope to unfold in 2015.
This year was a great success on so many levels. The combination of great weather, the hard work of field staff and so many volunteers who contributed to one of the largest harvest on record. Our donations of fresh organic produce to the Richmond Food Bank and community meals programs in the city were significantly up from previous years. We calculated that over 14 thousand pounds of some of the best produce in the city ended up on the plates of thousands of low-income citizens of Richmond.
If you volunteered in the fields, worked in our greenhouse, dropped in or volunteered at the Garlic Fest, or walked past and said hello, we thank you for your tremendous support. We hope you will continue supporting us and considering donating to The Sharing Farm.
We were fortunate to host over 25 new seniors in our Freshly Aged Seniors program. Through the support of a New Horizons grant, there was 70% increase in seniors assisting in the greenhouse and herb beds. We learned a lot from their wisdom, warmth and joy of giving.
We also doubled the size of our sustainably managed apiary through a grant from TD Friends of the Environment and doubled the volume of nutritious and tasty honey. The locally adapted honeybee-breeding program is producing a thriving and hardy population of bees.
Our Garlic Festival was another major success. The festival gets better every year attracting more festivalgoers and sponsors. Through a grant from the Richmond Community Foundation you may have contributed to a graphic illustration asking What Does A Healthy And Well Fed Community Look Like? We learned that contributing to community and access to local and sustainably grown food are very important to the citizens of Richmond.
I am particularly indebted to the dedication, passion and skills of The Sharing Farm staff. Susan did and continues to do a fantastic job directing the activities in the greenhouse and the herb beds; Leslie grew our apiary, managed the bees, bottled the honey and provided much needed administrative support; Gretchen organized, coordinated and promoted the extremely successful Garlic Festival, raised funds for the farm and managed our external communications and IT; Kristjan coordinated all of our volunteers this year, increased the number of corporate groups participating and worked with volunteers in the field and the Garlic Fest.
One of the great successes of the farm in the past years has been the tremendous contribution from our Field Manager Sasha. Her dedication, enthusiasm and expertise are a large part of our success on so many levels. I am sad to say that Sasha will be moving to Sweden next year. Myself, staff and board will miss her dearly as a friend and co-worker but send her off with a giant Sharing Farm hug.
We’re happy to announce that Kristjan is our new field manager. Kristjan is a 2013 Kwantlen Farm School graduate, a chef, and manages his own South Dyke farm.
I am also humbled and very grateful for the expertise, vision and strategic thinking of The Sharing Farm board. These folks: Pietro Widmer (Co Chair), Maureen Langan (Co Chair), Paul Ursich (Treasurer), Chris Thoreau (Secretary) and Adam Solimon (who has since stepped off the board), all contribute immensely to the farm, providing insight, vision and direction.
Casting ahead to next year we are planning some exiting initiatives.
We’ve had some very good indications that Mary’s Barn will be built next year. The barn will become the centre of our operations and provide space to do more of what we do better. It will help us be more efficient and to help us grow more food to donate to the people we serve. We’ve worked with the Parks department of the City of Richmond, along with some community minded partners and donors to make this happen.
We are working with a Theater company (Mortal Coil) to assemble a theater production on the farm. This children’s play will move about the farm, in and out of the fields, through the wood lot and end up in gigantic sunflower spiral, all while the day to day activities of the farm continue. This endeavor is an invitation for a new audience to experience a working farm and learn about the importance of local agriculture while experiencing family friendly entertainment.
We are planning a program with Richmond Schoolyard Society and the Terra Nova Nature Preschool to develop a food skills program for low-income families in Richmond. We will be growing the vegetables and the families how would come to the farm and get a weekly harvest box; the Schoolyard Society with Chef Ian Lai, will provide cooking instruction and the Nature Preschool will do facilitate activities and learning with the children.
It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child; in our case it takes a community to support a community farm. Its though the interest and dedication of a community of people that we are able to continue on with our mandate to provide fresh organic produce for our less fortunate neighbors.
On behalf of the staff and board, I thank you for your enduring support and enduring interest.
I hope you will consider a donation to The Sharing Farm. This link will take you to a secure donation site.
The Sharing Farm Society
Photos can be found on Flickr page: