FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 22, 2015
Growing Farmers, Feeding Families
Wolfe’s Neck Farm Awarded $50,000 from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation for Youth Farming Education that Addresses Hunger
FREEPORT, ME – October 22, 2015 – Wolfe’s Neck Farm has received a $50,000 Healthy Food Fund Grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to expand its Teen Agriculture: Raising Farmers, Feeding Maine (Teen Ag) program. With this grant the program will expand into year-round vegetable production as it trains youth in sustainable agricultural practices. Building on existing partnerships with local food pantries, Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s Teen Ag will provide fresh produce for Maine families facing hunger throughout the year.
With over 200,000 residents and 1 in 4 children experiencing food insecurity, Maine is the most food insecure state in New England and one of the most food insecure in the U.S., including the second highest rate of “very low food security.” In addition, a recent Good Shepherd Food Bank survey revealed that 56% of their clientele throughout Maine confront the choice between buying food and paying for heating in the winter, pointing to the need for more fresh produce for food pantries in the colder months.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation awarded a total of $972,916 in new Healthy Food Fund grants to 20 not-for-profit community food initiatives that grow, distribute and/or market fresh food in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Started in 2015, its Healthy Food Fund grants program is aimed at supporting healthy food initiatives that increase access to fresh, healthy, and, whenever possible, local food for families and communities in all of Harvard Pilgrim’s five markets across the region.
“Our goal for the Harvard Pilgrim Healthy Food Fund is to make fresh, local food easily accessible and affordable for more low- and middle-income families in our region,” said Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, in a statement.
In the four years since its inception, Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s Teen Ag youth have contributed literally tons of local, nutritious produce to families-in-need as participants in Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Mainers Feeding Mainers program and through partnerships with the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program in Brunswick, the Bath Area Food Bank, and Freeport Community Services. This year, the program started offering Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares at a substantially reduced price for SNAP recipients. With Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation funds Wolfe’s Neck Farm will build infrastructure to grow crops through the winter, raise overall production, and increase availability of fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP recipients and through food pantries.
“We are thrilled to have been selected to address hunger and nutrition in our communities and New England along with such a fantastic cohort of food system innovators,” said Dave Herring, Executive Director of Wolfe’s Neck Farm. “We look forward to developing our Teen Ag program as a model for sustainable agriculture and food system education that brings thousands of pounds of fresh, nutritious food to community members who wouldn’t have access otherwise.”
Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s Teen Ag has had a profound impact on participating youth, and several have decided to become farmers, including the recent winner of MOFGA’s Russell Libby Scholarship, Abigail Smith of Durham. She says the sustainable agriculture immersion program was a “huge confidence booster” with the tangible reward of “knowing that all the work we had done was really helping people.” Now a student in Kennebec Valley Community College’s Sustainable Agriculture program, she reflects, “I learned a lot from this experience and I look forward to my education in sustainable agriculture even more now!”
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ABOUT WOLFE’S NECK FARM:
Wolfe’s Neck Farm strives to play a leading role in shaping the future of sustainable agriculture by training new farmers, inspiring people to make informed food choices, and facilitating farm-based education and research. This nonprofit educational farm’s 626 acre campus includes forest, pasture lands, four miles of Casco Bay coastline and an award-winning oceanfront campground. The farm’s educational programs also include a summer day camp, school programs, and its new Organic Dairy Farmer Training and Research Program. It hosts annual barn dances and festivals as well as growing vegetables and pasture-raising chickens, turkeys, and lamb for the local community. Open free to the public year-round, the farm encourages visitors to traverse its miles of hiking trails, meet the livestock, explore the gardens and enjoy the open space. For more information, visit www.wolfesneckfarm.org
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