In 2009, I started something called The Potato Project, which is now known as IHartHarvest, Inc. which you can find here and on Facebook.
We organize volunteered land to farm potatoes and carrots, harvesting with all volunteers, to freely give fresh food to neighbors in need through local food pantries and The Greater Berks Food Bank in Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA.
Viewing a news report in 2008 by CNN about the current state of hard economic times, a farm in Colorado had potatoes un-harvested. The family invited anyone who was in need to come dig potatoes and take what they could use. The turnout of hungry people was large. Whole families came with shovels, bags and even toy wagons, even seen digging by hand.
I thought, “Hmm . . . we have resources here in Pennsylvania, too.” Starting with our 1.3 acre backyard and what we had in 2009, a growing Diaconal Ministry Project was born. One must understand, we are a pure hand-out to those who are hungry and in need, by the word of God, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
From within 30 acres, we have harvested 8 acres of potatoes from high density plantings, have reached and augmented local meals with fresh food for an estimated 30,000 households, about 84,000 persons in need during the month of September, being children, single parents, senior citizens, and all those in between.
We have hosted over 900 volunteers who have helped and served this season, fully aware this is a Holy Spirit Driven Ministry, of GOD’s Word, given in Jesus, through this Diaconal Mission.
We harvested and supplied 153,000 pounds of potatoes and 4,855 pounds of carrots, being 157,855 pounds of fresh food all donated to neighbors in need.
This provided harvest was valued at $ 117.689.80 by Greater Berks Food Bank, at .76/pound this year. The Greater Berks Food Bank is presently serving over 300 qualified charitable food programs among who they distribute to 100,000 persons, through and including local food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, Kids Cafes, Weekender Backpack Programs, and senior housing facilities. GBFB serves Western Montgomery, Berks and Schuylkill Counties. Other harvesting groups took bagged potatoes back to local pantries in Allentown, Lehigh, Northern Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks and Dolphin Counties, of which we are aware.
As for the contribution that older workers can make: Those who are young know many new things. Those who are middle aged, know how to work with those things. Those who are oldest, know what should be done with those things.