Southington Reader-Submitted Photo

Viewing produce in the LEAF cold storage building are, from left, Matt Theriault, LEAF assistant manager, Jeff Webster, farm worker, Benny Cammuso, Bread for Life volunteer, Eldon Hafford, Bread for Life executive director and Mark Ramsay, farm manager and founder of LEAF. (Courtesy of Bread for Life / August 14, 2014)

Officials of Bread for Life, the program that feeds the hungry in Southington, have been very grateful for the continual donations of hundreds of pounds of locally grown produce from Mark Ramsay and the Lewis Educational Agricultural Farm. The vegetables are used for meals that are served each weekday at the lunch program, and the meals that are delivered to seniors and homebound friends.

LEAF promotes education through agriculture on the historic Lewis Family Farm by using farming practices that are socially and ecologically sustainable. Through education, LEAF works to establish the relationship between students, community, the food supply and the land from which it grows, according to Mark Ramsay, farm manager/founder and seventh-generation of the Lewis Farm family.

An important component of LEAF's mission is supporting the community including providing a wide variety of local vegetables to Bread for Life. "You can't get fresher than this," Ramsay said, as he gave a box of produce to Eldon Hafford, Bread for Life executive director, when he came to the farm, located on Blueberry Lane off Meriden Avenue.

This summer, LEAF has grown more than 200 varieties of vegetables many of which are offered weekly to those customers who have purchased seasonal Community Shared Agricultural shares, entitling them to boxes of vegetables. The organically grown produce, which is grown on 7 acres of land and within extensive greenhouses, is also sold at farmer's markets, restaurants and farm stands.

Hafford said he was glad to hear that Ramsay plans to continue growing vegetables in the greenhouses into January, ensuring that people in need will be able to have fresh produce, which is normally not available. "Right now we are in our fifth go-round of lettuce," Ramsay said in late July.

LEAF is also focusing on its collaboration with students that will begin this fall. He plans to give students with special needs the opportunity to work on the farm and hopes that hands-on agriculture will be incorporated into the third- and fourth-grade curriculum. Many children don't even know where produce comes from and have never seen it growing, Ramsay said. Upcoming developments include the use of solar energy and construction of a new building that would include a kitchen in which students could learn to cook straight from the garden.

"Bread for Life is very grateful to LEAF for its continued donations. The hungriest in our midst may not know where their next meal is coming from, but we do. It is from the kindness and generosity of good people like you. With the community's support we can achieve our mission may no one go hungry," Hafford said.

For more information about Bread for Life, visit http://www.southingtonbreadforlife.org or call the office at 860-276-8389. For more information about LEAF, visit http://www.leafct.com.