Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our 15 Minutes of Fame ... this article about us appeared in The Somerset Daily American on our 42nd wedding anniversary!

VICKI ROCK Daily American Staff Writer
SOMERSET PA, August 25, 2011 —

Arthur and Maxine Cook, Jolico Farm, Somerset, have been gardeners for 42 years. Like many gardeners, they are often faced with what to do with their excess produce after eating and preserving much of it.

A writer on a gardening blog that Maxine was reading mentioned the Ample website. She visited the website and clicked on the link for people who have excess produce to find a food pantry that would accept it. The nearest food pantries listed were in Ligonier, Acme and Latrobe.

“This is a great idea — gardeners with excess produce to give it to food pantries — that’s fabulous,” she said. “But none in Somerset County were listed.”

Jeffrey Masterson, executive director of the Community Action Partnership for Somerset County Tableland Services, said food pantries in Somerset County do accept fresh produce as long as people call the food pantries first.

“With the cutbacks in federal and state funding, we appreciate fresh produce people are offering,” he said.

Arthur Cook pointed out that some people may not be aware of how to prepare fresh produce. Masterson agreed and said the younger families especially may not know how to use everything. If people could provide written directions as to how to use various items, that would be helpful.

“The elderly do know how to prepare the vegetables, and how to preserve them,” Maxine Cook said. “Friends don’t like to see me coming in the summer because they know that I’m bringing them vegetables — I print out recipes and leave them with the bags of zucchini. Wasting food bothers me terribly. It breaks my heart to throw out produce, but I can only use, can and freeze so much. Most people who produce food work hard.”

Arthur Cook said their zucchini plants produce 30 pounds a day during the peak season and he ends up composting 98 percent of it.

If the food pantries aren’t willing to accept all the excess produce, the Cooks think it would be nice if a local church or other organization would offer space in a building. Gardeners could bring in their extra produce and anyone who wants it — not just people eligible to use food pantries — could go and pick it up.

“I just think with the cost of food — think of how much it has gone up in the past three months, six months, one year — people would be happy to get it,” Maxine Cook said. “If you don’t garden, take the food. There could be one in each community. A committee could get together to organize it. This could become a movement, or a new practice.”

Her husband agreed.

“You can’t stay healthy without fresh food,” he said.

A similar project is being planned. The Rev. Barry Ritenour, pastor of Bethany United Methodist Church, said a Produce to People group is being started in Somerset. A monthly distribution of fresh produce will be available for residents of Somerset County. This produce will be excess from local farms. Details of the first distribution will be announced soon.

“The farmers who are willing to donate will have a contact person and we will send in gleaners to pick the produce,” Ritenour said. Gleaners are people who go into a field and pick up produce left behind by machinery.

Produce to People in Somerset County is being sponsored by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Feeding America, Somerset County Farmers’ Market, Somerset County Community Action Partnership, Somerset Area Ministries and St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.
Copyright © 2011, Daily American

1 comment:

  1. Every word of this post is a good idea. I agree Max. Throwing away food is a sacrilege and makes me crazy. And this food, real food, is so nutritious and wholesome. I could barely believe my eyes to read that there are some people on this planet who don't know how to prepare fresh food. How is that possible? I long to live on a farm, grow my own food, pick apples from trees, dig up potatoes, and take my basket into a thicket of berry bushes...make pies, put up jams, freeze melon balls.....I CAN'T WAIT! I came from a farm, and I know I'll die on a farm. I can't wait to get my hands dirty.

    Have you read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." Please read this because it's an incredible piece of non-fiction. One factoid I will never forget, and I'm paraphrasing here, was that an acre of land was pointed to as the sole source of food for an entire extended family.

    How sad so many in this last generation (and perhaps the one before) care little about, and will never know the joy of, self-sufficiency.

    I love your posts. I love the picture. You're a handsome couple.