Hurricane Ida moved through Louisiana in late August leaving flooding, damaged property, power outages and destruction in its wake. In the aftermath, food is needed, especially fresh food, and First Fruit Farms, a local nonprofit farm dedicated to providing fresh, nutritious food to those in need, is stepping in to help.
On Sept. 4, First Fruit Farms, located in Freeland, pulled together a volunteer crew for the special purpose of harvesting enough corn to fill a tractor-trailer to be sent to aid the victims and workers in hardest-hit areas of Louisiana. Joining with Convoy of Hope, a nonprofit shipping company, and combined with donations from over 20 farmers throughout Maryland, four tractor-trailers were shipped out.
Albright Farms in Phoenix, Md., and Maryland Farmers Markets coordinated the donations of milk, cheese and produce to feed those affected by Hurricane Ida. Some of the harvest volunteers even had direct connections to family, co-workers and friends in the areas devastated by the hurricane, and they were thankful to be able to directly help provide the urgent response.
First Fruits Farms has been doing great things in northern Baltimore County for more than 20 years, providing fresh, nutritious produce to those experiencing hunger in the Mid-Atlantic region. Established by Rick and Carol Bernstein, who started with the vision to plant and harvest their fields using a volunteer workforce and donate the resulting fresh produce, the nonprofit Christian ministry certainly lives up to its motto of “Grow Food, Give Food, Serve Others.”
Since 2004, First Fruits Farms has attracted thousands of area volunteers who have helped harvest over 18 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to share with local food banks, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and other food providers.
Volunteers of all ages are welcome and in 2020 alone, more than 9,700 individuals went into the fields to help harvest potatoes, green beans, sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes and more. Groups from our local area, including Scout troops and local schools, along with sports teams like the St Joseph’s Church CYO Soccer program and churches like the Catholic Community of St Francis Xavier and Hunt Valley Church, all pitch in regularly to support getting food to vulnerable populations.
First Fruits Farms also recently launched a new initiative called Adopt A Box, which is intended to offset the cost of packaging the harvest into smaller family friendly boxes that are ready household distribution.
First Fruits Farm is committed to giving 100% of the food it grows to those in need, but packaging expenses can reach about $30,000 annually. Through the Adopt A Box program, a donation of $50 buys 50 boxes and meets a critical need for distribution partners and will get over 1,500 pounds of healthy food directly to those in great need in Baltimore and beyond. For more information on volunteering with the harvest or to Adopt A Box, please visit firstfruitsfarm.org.