Food Insecurity and Brooktondale Food Pantry Capstone – Candice

Studying Food Insecurity and Volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry – Capstone Project for Sustainable Farming and Food Systems – by Candice

Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site
Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site

I decided to do my Capstone project on food insecurity and how it related to families living in poverty. For this project, I  researched how easy it is to sink into poverty and how hard it is to get back to a stable financial life. I have also been volunteering my time at a local food pantry located right in Brooktondale.  You may think that a normal food pantry just gives out food to families in need, but this one does a lot more than just giving out food.  The Brooktondale Food Pantry has a full kitchen where it gives kids a chance to learn how to cook, and they have a full garden out back where they grow all of their vegetables for the kitchen and to give away at the food pantry.

Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations
Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations

One of the tasks that is included in volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry is unloading vegetables and meats from the Southern Tier food truck that comes to Brooktondale and drops off donations. We have to sort everything out –  all the meats go together, all the cereals go together, veggies go together and so on.  Then we must inspect everything, this includes writing the date on our inventory sheet that it came to pantry and the date that it will be put out for families to take. We also have to check the expiration date and check to see if the product is damaged in any way. If it is damaged or out of date it gets put back on the truck. This is a food safety precaution that we have to follow. Some of the donations such as local fruits and vegetables are given to us from local farmers from Dryden, Cortland, Brooktondale and even Ithaca.  We also have been receiving a truck full of different kinds of breads from the Ithaca Bakery.

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Composting and Strawberries at the Farm

Composting, Growing Strawberries, and Potting On Tomatoes – This Week at the TC3 Farm – Student Post By Candice

TC3 Farm Compost
TC3 Farm Compost Pile

This week at the TC3 farm we learned about composting. Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into rich soil humus. There are many benefits of composting food and other matter. Compost energizes the soil food web, which is made up of microscopic bacteria and fungi, along with earthworms, crickets and many other life forms. Compost enhances the ability of tomatoes and other vegetables to stand up to diseases and may improve their flavor and nutrition. Compost also helps the soil retain as much moisture as possible. You can get compost from a number of different commercial suppliers, but the best compost is homemade! The TC3 farm gets the raw material for making compost from the leftover food served at Coltivare Restaurant, in Ithaca, NY.

Uncovering Strawberries
Uncovering Strawberries

We also uncovered the strawberry patch which was under several layers of row cover for the winter, in order to let the sun get to them to enhance their nutrients. Although rained hard we were still able to get the whole patch weeded, mulched with wood chips, and we even replanted some of the plants we grew from runners in the greenhouse over the winter. Strawberry plants are known to have runners – which are stolons that the plants use to vegetatively propagate themselves. Most students offered to take the runners home and replant them last fall, while the rest were planted in the greenhouse to fill in gaps in the strawberry patch at the farm. Clipping the runners from the mother plant allows the mother plant to focus on fruit production rather than multiplying. The runners are doing great, they have blossomed and are now ready for this year’s season!

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