Volunteer Farm likely to see moderate year

By Katie Demeria

This year, the Volunteer Farm in Woodstock has already exceeded last year’s production, even with a few more months to continue harvesting. But that is still not enough.

According to a recent newsletter, the number of individuals relying on the farm’s fresh produce has tripled in the past 10 years.

Founder and CEO Bob Blair confirmed the increase, adding that the farm typically learns how many they are serving from the food banks with which they work.

“If you’re serving 150,000 people a month, 32,000 pounds doesn’t go very far,” Blair said.

When asked what has caused the steep increase in the number they serve, Blair said the economy is a likely cause.

This year, he added, seems to be pretty moderate when compared to the past nine years. Assuming the current harvesting rate continues, it will be “right in the middle,” Blair said.

So far the farm has harvested 32,476 pounds, with more expected. More cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes and turnips should be coming before the frost hits.

Their best year was in 2012, Blair said, when they harvested 165,532 pounds.

This year both radishes and watermelon were disappointing, he said.

Despite having a moderately successful year so far, and drawing in enough volunteers to harvest it all, Blair said there is still not enough.

“I would like to see even more,” he said. “To say that you’re satisfied, that you’ve donated enough food to help feed all the people is wishful thinking.”

In order to consider feeding all those who are in need of fresh food would require even more production.

The newsletter points out that the 40 acres on which the farm currently plants cannot be physically stretched, but more production per acre is an option.

“The task is to operate wisely to squeeze out of the ground as much food as possible,” it states.

But Blair also pointed out that the nature of farming changes production rates each year. A lot of aspects are out of the farmer’s control.

“What we need more than anything else is more donations,” Blair said. “We need funds to increase production, good weather and a lot of prayers.”

“We’re happy, but not satisfied, is the way to put it,” he added. “I’d like to be a lot happier.”

To donate, go to the Volunteer Farm’s website at http://www.volunteerfarm.org.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com