by Ellen Shaughnessy.
A client who commutes to NYC via the bus for work needed to change a settlement time recently. I later learned that he needed to work around his Easton Urban Farm volunteer schedule, since he was recently promoted from pure volunteer to farm manager volunteer: My faith in humanity is restored.
Curt Rowell is a certified Rutgers Environmental Steward, who brings his agricultural expertise to our lucky local community farm. With such a booked commuting and work schedule, of course the South Side Easton Urban Farm is of top priority! This Urban Garden is a community-based effort, run mostly by volunteers. In 2014, the garden produced over 7,000 pounds of produce. In 2016 the garden area has since more than doubled in size which bodes well for an even larger harvest this year.
Here are a few excellent hot peppers that I scored when Urban Farm was on the Northampton County farm tour last year ….it made the yummiest batch of FBR “Housewarmer Hot Sauce’ yet.
The Urban Farm community workforce includes area residents, a couple of Lafayette College farm interns, and even a few local South Side employees. Urban Farm manager Curt noted that a few South Easton manufacturer Hindle Power employees volunteer to help at the farm.
“Hindle even fabricated and donated a spacious cooler so that we can keep all the garden bounty cool, for our Saturday market retail hours. We are incredibly grateful.”
The Urban Garden has retail market hours on Saturdays, 1-4. It doesn’t get much fresher — they will even harvest what you want while you wait – directly from the garden. The Easton Urban Farm was re-born from a community plot garden into a communally-farmed one in 2012.
The point of the Urban Farm is to encourage residents to access
healthy food through purchase, cultivation, and sharing. To that end, the Easton Area Neighborhood Center has partnered with the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV) organization’s West Ward Neighborhood Partnership. I’d like to also give a shout-out to WWN’s Sofia Feller who dedicates an incredible amount of time to making this Urgan Veggie treasure trove work.
Lafayette College also supports this plus other sprouting Community Garden projects, which also take advantage of the produce from the Urban Farm yields.
The farm is focused on getting all kinds of veggies into the community: Snow peas, garlic, spinach, beets, kale, collard greens, and loads of squash abound. Coming soon are tomatoes, green beans, and potatoes. There are also herbs and perennials and the Urban Farm fills special orders for the Easton Public Market produce stand such as recent garlic scapes and fava beans. This Urban Farm also fuels urban veggie stands and the local food pantry.
Some produce is donated to West Ward residents through the Veggie Stand project and to food banks in the area. Produce is also awarded to the volunteers who staff the farm. Local volunteers are all ages. Some farm once a month – some multiple times a week.
The Urban Farm and other community gardens host gardening workshops and classes on how to cultivate locally-grown produce. One July 10th & Pine Veggie Stand (Wed. nights, 5:30-7 into September) featured a tomato-plant giveaway and the Urban Ecology Team gave tips to local residents on how best to plant and cultivate them.
Fresh veggie accessibility is one of the major goals of the Urban Farm and the various Home Site Gardens that are peppered through our city. The West Ward Veggie Stand which happens on Wednesday nights at the 10th & Pine St. Urban Garden, brings fresh veggies to the neighborhood.
All neighbors are welcome to come get fresh veggies. Monetary donations are a suggestion, but not mandatory. There are also mobile veggie markets that bring fresh produce to areas where some families may not have cars or the means to easily get to fresh food.
This grass-roots community service is in line with many other programs that Easton Area Neighborhood Center has been running since it’s start in 1967 to help local folks in need develop skills, education and experience in order to help them become more self-sufficient. The EANC website has a handy‘ Wish List’ of most needed items – Things like childrens’ books, and many other items that might be handy to donate when you are moving to a new house.
This article was featured in our summer 2016 issue of GimmeShelter, our seasonal newsletter – our latest issues can be found on front of our office at 140 Northampton St. Easton PA 18042, or at the Sponsors’ information kiosks in Easton Public Market or the Easton Farmers’ Market… Free Bridge Realty is a proud sponsor of the Easton Pulbic Market.