Last Updated on June 9, 2021
Thanks to Stonyfield Organic for helping to spread good health and good cheer this holiday season!
I’ve just joined a team of bloggers who work with Stonyfield Organic, a wonderful company that values the health of consumers and of the planet (and of course, makes terrific yogurt!). As part of a campaign to “pay it forward,” this month they sent a $50 Visa gift card for me to use to do whatever good I choose in my community. Since I write about affording healthy food so often, I wanted to give people who couldn’t always afford it the gift of some healthy fresh food, which is not always easy to come by in the dead of winter! I arranged to make a donation to our local food shelf, which distributes over 50,000 pounds of food to more than 450 families in our community each year.
To increase the impact, I wanted to buy food grown locally in order to support the efforts of some of our amazing local farmers. Short-sightedly, the USDA doesn’t subsidize planet-friendly, diverse organic farms, funneling our tax dollars to huge monocrops of pesticide-treated corn and soy (which are turned into processed foods that compromise public health).
To support local organic farmers, who work really hard to grow fantastic fruits and vegetables, I chose to buy some incredible carrots grown at Open Hands Farm, an organic farm that grows over 270 varieties of fruits and veggies on 14 acres. These super-savvy farmers are helping folks in their local foodshed eat locally more of the year by growing 60,000 pounds of amazingly sweet root vegetables for us to enjoy in the long Minnesota winters. Local veggies can be hard to find around here in winter, so their delicious parsnips, beets, and carrots have been a welcome addition to winter meals. A couple years ago they filled a gap in our local foodshed by building a climate-controlled storage facility that lets them sell fresh food through the winter. Here’s the restored barn where they wash and sell their roots.Though the ground is frozen 5 months of the year, farmers Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty, with the help of their terrific team harvest long-storing roots for us to enjoy. Here’s what they sell at their Winter Store, which they open once a month to the public. They also sell to some area stores and school systems.On a frigid December day (wind chill below 0!) we joined other local eaters shopping the Winter Store. Carrots were only a dollar a pound, so I bought 50 pounds to share with those in our community who need food assistance. (I’m pretty convinced that eating one of these carrots every day is helping me fend off all the colds coming home with kiddos!)
Though Erin and Ben grow a sizeable portion of the food they eat, they buy some staples like dairy regularly. I suspect they’ll be using the money we paid them for carrots to buy some local dairy at our community-owned coop, extending the impact of that fifty dollars even further as it circulates in the community and supports local small business and organic farming.
My 6-year-old came along and helped haul the carrots from the barn on our sled.
We delivered them to the foodshelf, where they joined some other produce donations from grocery stores around town. By donating to the foodshelf these stores not only help get food to those who need it, but reduce waste, a major problem in this country! Open Hands also sends whatever is left after share pickups during the season to the foodshelf (averaging 200 pounds per week!), so clients there get to enjoy their amazing tomatoes, greens, and other tasty veggies as well.
We are incredibly fortunate to have access to a wonderful farm like Open Hands, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to share our good fortune this season! A huge thanks to Stonyfield for helping to spread good health this holiday!
I hope they enjoy the carrots as much as we do and have a very happy and healthy holiday!
How are you paying it forward in your community this year?
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Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.