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Hoosac Harvest volunteer Darlene Ellis made the trip with squash for local food sites.

Ioka Valley Farm Donates Tons of Food to Area Food Pantries

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Squash is en route to local food pantries from Ioka Valley Farm.

HANCOCK, Mass. - Many many families and individuals will enjoy cooking and eating squash and pumpkins that they received from pantries and food sites throughout Berkshire County as a result of the the generosity of the Leab family of Ioka Valley Farm.

More than 4,000 pounds of squash and pumpkins were gleaned this past week by volunteers coordinated by Hoosac Harvest. The cars of volunteers were fully loaded with tons of medium squash varieties ( Butternut, Buttercup, Acorn, Delcata), large Hubbard squash, Cheese Wheel and Crookneck pumpkins, and small sugar  pumpkins. Over a couple of pickups at Ioka, volunteers took about 2,000 pounds of produce to four North Berkshire pantries (St. Patrick's in Williamstown, Pope John Paul Charity Center in Adams and the Dream Center and the Friendship Center, both in North Adams).

On the last big hauls, volunteers took the remaining 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of squash and pumpkins to the food depot in Pittsfield, where the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and BCAC (Berkshire Community Action Council) distribute produce to food pantries throughout Berkshire county.  

For the fifth year, Melissa Leab contacted a Hoosac Harvest Core Group member to let them know that Ioka was ready to be gleaned.  Usually there are squash to be picked at a field owned by the farm, but this year all the produce was ready and accessible for pickup. Hoosac Harvest put out the message that volunteers were needed. Hoosac Harvest Core Group members Kathy Keeser and Darlene Ellis, along with Jennifer Munoz, Paula Foye, Charles Boneti, Mathew Ellis, Jennie Fink, and Eddie O'Toole, loaded up their vehicles with produce and drove them to various pantries and food sites, with some volunteers making more than one trip carting the vegetables.

Gleaning extra produce that farms including Ioka Valley and farmers markets are willing to donate is an important task that Hoosac Harvest coordinates to help ease hunger in Northern Berkshire. Hoosac Harvest ( ), an all volunteer-run local nonprofit,  coordinates volunteers in picking up a couple of tons of produce throughout the year that are delivered to pantries, low income housing developments, food sites and the Berkshire Food Project.

Additionally, this year, Hoosac Harvest subsidized 26 shares to three local CSA farms, so that 16 people with limited incomes receive 10 weeks of winter share vegetables for half the cost and 69 limited income people received 20 weeks of summer/fall vegetable share as an average cost of 40 percent of the total cost of the shares. The farmers at Square Roots Farm in Lanesborough, Many Forks in Clarksburg and Wildstone Farm receive the full cost of their farms shares from Hoosac Harvest and the 26 households then pay Hoosac Harvest an average of 40 percent of the full cost of the share. Community events including farmers potluck, Know Your Farmer Know Your Food and Seedling exchange are some of the other work of Hoosac Harvest.

Hoosac Harvest receives support for this work from the Hardman Fund of Berkshire Taconic Foundation, Bershire Grown and donations from St. John's Church in Williamstown, Storey Publishing, and many community members.



Tags: farming,   food bank,   food pantry,   produce,   

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