Farm reaps benefit from Friends of Elderly donation

Jun 7, 2021

Dartmouth Friends of the Elderly donated $5,000 June 4 to help the gardens flourish at Sharing the Harvest Community Farm.

The farm, located on the grounds of the Dartmouth YMCA on Gulf Road, grows produce from June to November. This harvest is donated to community organizations in the region, including the Dartmouth Council on Aging, to help ensure that people have access to healthy food.

Friends of the Elderly President Maria Connor said the food distribution is much appreciated by the town’s seniors.

“Sharing the Harvest is close to our hearts,’’ she said, adding that for many of the seniors served through this program, “it’s probably the only time they have fresh, local produce. Our seniors love to receive the nice, fresh vegetables.’’

The non-profit, volunteer-driven farm began with 20 raised beds and has since grown to five acres. Since its inception in 2006, it has donated more than half a million pounds of produce to those in need across the region.

The goal, farm director Ashley Brister said, is to “provide the healthiest, most nutritious food for people in need.” 

“Because of the pandemic, more and more people are experiencing food insecurity and having to make decisions whether to pay a medical bill or buy food,’’ she added.

Volunteers drive much of this effort, she said. Bringing in the community allows the farm to flourish, she said, and complements their goal of educating the public about the food insecurity that plagues Bristol County.

According to the Greater Boston Food Bank, one in nine people in the county lived in food insecure homes before the pandemic began.

Produce grown on the farm includes summer squash, zucchini, kale, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and winter squash. The farm is also home to 75 chickens, which provide eggs. 

The farm also received a $1,000 donation from Stonegate Mortgage, the employer of Milena Mello, who is a board member for the Dartmouth Friends of the Elderly.