Father Larry's Farm grows food for the Loaves & Fishes kitchens. The produce is then used in salad, soup and main dish preparation to augment the produce donated to Loaves & Fishes.
The start of something special
One day in February, 2013 Dave asked if Larry and I were interested in starting a garden. He had seen a plot of land behind the parking lot where Goodwill trailers are parked. We said, “Sure”. The Garden Committee was formed and is comprised of three people; Dave Romeri, Larry Vollman and Chuck Habib. We are volunteers at the Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen. We then asked the Goodwill facilities manager if we could start a garden on their property at a meeting in March. We were given approval and were the proud recipients of a 12,000 square foot plot of land in April.
By the second week of May we had cleared the land of a dead tree, pulled huge weeds and rota-tilled the soil. We received 48 yards of free tree chip mulch for garden path material from a tree trimming contractor and 48 yards of free clean compost from a landfill. Dave asked a couple nurseries in the area if they would donate plants and they responded with $2000 (wholesale value) of plant starts; 90 – one gallon tomato plants and flats of lettuce, chard, basil, eggplant, celery, squash, hot peppers, parsley and bean seeds. By June we had planted all the vegetables.
A drip water system was purchased and put in place in all the plots except for tomatoes. We have supplied vegetables for the three kitchens this summer and fall, augmenting vegetable contributions from local food banks. We are presently working on expanding the garden area and putting in a new water supply.
Loaves & Fish prides itself on providing not only free, and hot food, but complete meals that are balanced and nutritious. Part of a healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables; but creating tasty and nutritious vegetable options became very problematic for us. Often times, donated produce was inedible due to its typical condition of being "past sell date." The produce from Father Larry's Farm provides our kitchen staff with a variety of fresh vegetables, and herbs to create salads, vegetable dishes, soups, and seasonings.
Our kitchen currently serves more than 300,000 meals every year. Knowing our guests need their daily intake of fresh vegetables has given us the impetus to grow and deliver our own high quality produce. Today, we supplement the good produce we receive from our partners, with the fresh ingredients we grow straight from Father Larry's Farm.