Gift from community farm ‘easy to harvest and easy to enjoy’
December 13, 2012
WARRENTON—A community farm in Northern Virginia is helping supply a traditional holiday favorite to local food banks—sweet potatoes.
The Fauquier Education Farm is a former dairy farm where Master Gardeners teach gardening techniques and the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program offers training sessions. The farm is supported by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Fauquier County, Fauquier County Farm Bureau and local volunteers.
“The food that we grow here is harvested and donated to local food banks,” said farm coordinator Jim Hilleary. “Sweet potatoes are a food that’s easy to produce, easy to harvest and easy to enjoy.”
Earlier this fall “we harvested 5,000 pounds of white potatoes,” Hilleary said while leading a team of volunteers harvesting nearly 1,000 pounds of sweet potatoes in mid-November.
More than 2,000 people are served each month by the local food bank, Hilleary said, and nearly 700 of them are children. Volunteers at the farm are happy to offer some comfort and tradition to families in need.
“Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins and fiber, and they are very nutritious,” said Tim Ohlwiler, an Extension horticulture specialist in Fauquier. “They store well too.”
The Fauquier Education Farm has helped to strengthen ties between farmers and the rest of a fast-growing community, especially during the holidays, Hilleary said. “We strive to provide quality food for the clients at the food bank. … It’s nice to provide a food that reminds them of a better time and celebrates the spirit of the holidays. It’s nice to be able to do that.”
Contact Hilleary at 540-341-7950, ext. 227, or Norm Hyde, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146.