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Rolling with charity at Shady Brook Farm

Link to Article in Bucks County Courier Times, November 21, 2016. By Nicole Loughan correspondent

When one of Bucks County’s largest farms, Shady Brook, joined local food sharing organization Rolling Harvest’s team of growers, they pushed donations over the top, literally.

Rolling Harvest Executive Director and Founder Cathy Snyder said the program provides fresh healthy food to local charities through farm donations. Rolling Harvest has served the Bucks County area since 2012. The charity has partnered with more than 30 local farms, including Solebury Orchards, Solly Brothers, and None Such Farms, but the addition of Shady Brook upped the ante.

“Shady Brook’s donations were so large that we need a new truck,” Snyder said. “We thought maybe we would get a bit of produce that they pulled from their market. But then we realized they are giving us this beautiful fresh produce right from the field. They were in these huge crates stored on pallets. It’s made a huge difference.”

Shady Brook Farmer Paul Fleming said they donate a little bit of everything. “Anything that we have extra,” said Fleming. “We had tomatoes earlier this year, cantaloupe, sweet corn. Tomorrow they are getting broccoli and apples.”

Fleming said Rolling Harvest gets more than expired food, or items that didn’t sell. He said they receive good quality products straight from the orchard which might be off size, such as small apples. Fleming added that they could compost the apple or it could be used in cider, but he is happy to send the apples where they can be of use as an easy healthy snack.

The reason they chose to partner with Rolling Harvest, according to Fleming, was the business model they use. It is unique in a way that is beneficial to both of them. He explained that there have been times when Shady Brook had 50 to 100 cases of extra food, which they couldn’t donate to the shelter.

“You can’t just take 100 cases of broccoli to a shelter, they won’t be able to use all of it or store it and then they will have a problem on their hands. They will have to figure out how to dispose of it,” he said.

At Rolling Harvest Snyder and her team can divvy up those 100 cases of broccoli to their many donation sites in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia and even New Jersey. Their recipients include food pantries, domestic violence shelters, low-income senior centers, children and family homeless shelters, and at risk low-income adults with health challenges.

Fleming said that Shady Brook will continue their canned food drives, but are happy to supplement with healthy fresh produce as well. In the coming year, he said, they will continue donating and possibly expand their offerings with Rolling Harvest by planting food specifically for them.

Snyder said Rolling Harvest will be getting a 16-foot truck with a lift gate to accommodate the generosity of area farmers.

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