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Farm fresh deliveries begin to West Kootenay families and seniors

Neighbours United’s Farms to Friends program is back to helping locals in-need
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Farms to Friends delivers fresh food biweekly to families and seniors across the West Kootenay. L-R: Josh Drozda, Sarashmi Sarker, Fable Smith. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by Neighbours United

Neighbours United’s Farms to Friends program is back for another season of helping local families in-need.

The program delivers fresh food biweekly to families and seniors throughout the West Kootenay.

The program kicked off its 2023 season on June 1 and supports 84 households and over 250 people in Castlegar, Robson, Nelson, Fruitvale, Rossland, Warfield, Salmo, Shoreacres, and Trail.

“We had a great first delivery day,” says Josh Drozda, deputy executive director of Neighbours United and program lead. “Families were happy to get their farm-fresh food. And we are still looking for volunteers in Nelson, Castlegar, and Trail to help with biweekly deliveries in their communities.”

This season, Farms to Friends is partnering with local Kootenay farms and producers Bent Plow Farm, Clutch Farm, Mr. Mercy’s Mushrooms, and Kootenay Natural Meats.

Since the program started in 2020, Neighbours United has invested over $200,000 back to local farmers and food producers.

“I was thrilled to hear that Neighbours United’s Farms to Friends program was continuing for 2023,” says Robin Mercy of Mr.Mercy’s Mushrooms. “As a local producer, I love it when the food I grow can stay in the region, and especially when it can go to people who might not usually have the means to access local organic produce.

“Farms to Friends makes this happen, and I think it’s an important piece in the local food security puzzle.”

Farms to Friends took a temporary pause in autumn of 2022 when COVID relief funding was no longer available.

“While the support for people in-need has ended from COVID relief grants, we’ve seen more families in our region continue to struggle with rising costs of living and ability to get healthy food on their tables,” says Drozda.

Since then, Neighbours United has fundraised and got feedback from participating families and volunteers to develop an adjusted version of the program that still provides support for our neighbours who need it most, while running on budget in-line with funding available.

For 2023, Farms to Friends will run bi-weekly from June 1 to Nov. 16.

“When I got home and I saw the bag on our doorstep I felt this immense joy that Farms to Friends is back and knowing that I can come home to fresh veggies and that you are out there delivering again meant the world to us and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Dea, a Farms to Friends participant in Salmo. “We appreciate everything the program has done for us.”

Farms to Friends is made possible by volunteers who deliver the bags to the front doors of program participants.

“Eating food that is locally grown is ultimately important for sustainability so I do what I can to support growing and eating locally grown food,” says Farms to Friends volunteer Marina Buchan. “Now that I am retired I have time to give back to the community and delivering healthy food to those in need is something I enjoy doing.”

To get involved or support Farms to Friends, email info@neighboursunited.org or visit: neighboursunited.org.

Neighbours United is a non-profit community-driven organization that brings together local residents to protect the natural environment while building just, equitable, healthy, and livable communities.

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