As the sun sets on 2023, we want to share how the support of our members and donors has nourished our communities, literally and figuratively, this growing season. Our hard-working, passionate, and resilient Green Earth Harvest farm crew has labored with smiles on their faces through chilly rainy, blazing heat, and a perfect mild day every now and then to grow 40 different fresh, certified organic vegetables this past season, which ultimately end up on the dinner tables of more than 700 farmshare families, 400 farm pantry families, and our farmstand patrons. Not only are these lovingly nurtured veggies providing healthy nutrition to the families who eat them, they are also grown sustainably in a way that cares for the soil at McDonald Farm without harming the air, water, animals, and other plants native to the farm.
It has been our honor to grow and provide healthy, organic sustenance to more than 400 families through our food pantry partnerships this season. We all know we are living in challenging times, and food pantries throughout the region are reporting dramatically increased need from local residents. Getting fresh produce for those facing food insecurity also seems to be a universal challenge, and one we are so thankful to have been able to help with because of your support. Through our partnerships with We WILL Grow Community Garden Program and Loaves and Fishes in Will County and with Itasca Bank & Trust Company, their clients, and the DuPage County Board in DuPage County, more than 400 families visiting six different food pantries were nourished with fresh, locally grown organic vegetables harvested the same week they received them. Between these two counties, our Green Earth Harvest crew grew and provided 25,000 pounds of farm-fresh produce to local families in need. It all starts with a seed, and with partners and communities that nurture it. Your support of our mission changed thousands of lives for the better this growing season! We hope to continue and expand these pantry partnerships in 2024 and beyond to help combat food insecurity in our region.
And thanks to a new heated greenhouse we were able to construct this summer, our growing capacity will be expanded to feed more of our community more of the year! This new heated space means we can grow cold-hardy but more temperature-sensitive crops like spinach, carrots, lettuce, turnips, and other hearty greens, and provide these nutritious veggies to our community during the colder months of the year. Steve Tiwald, the original founder of the Green Earth Institute, had a bold vision of growing healthy, local organic food with integrity. When Steve retired in 2018 and Green Earth Institute became Green Earth Harvest, a program of The Conservation Foundation, he entrusted us to manage and grow and manifest his vision. In tribute to him and the vibrant community and connections that have grown from what he began, this new structure has been named ”Farmer Steve’s Greenhouse.” At a dedication gathering in September, the generous donors who made the heated greenhouse possible toasted Steve and helped plant the greenhouse’s first cover crop: annual rye grass and hairy vetch, nitrogen fixers that will enrich the soil to feed the plants sown in it.
In the words of our Green Earth Harvest Farm Manager Russell Cerocke as he addressed Farmer Steve at the greenhouse dedication, “Steve, had you not embarked on your journey here over 20 years ago, it is likely that none of this would have been possible. Although your friends and family may have thought you a were a bit crazy when you started this adventure, here we are. It is all thanks to you, and everyone whom you’ve helped along the way. So, on behalf of the 2023 Green Earth Harvest farm crew, myself, and everyone involved in our farm program, thank you, Steve.”
Our 2024 Green Earth Harvest customizable farmshare subscriptions are now available! Learn more here and secure your share of the harvest!