The White Plains Examiner

Farmer Donations to Ecumenical Food Pantry Recognized

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Berkeley College students participate in the White Plains Youth Bureau Greening Program.

Regional farmers participating at the White Plains Farmers Market were recognized by Mayor Thomas Roach and Ecumenical Food Pantry founder and manager, Lorraine Buonocunto,  at a ceremony during market hours on August 15.

At the close of the market each Wednesday afternoon about five local farmers gather up produce they did not sell that day and student members of the White Plains Youth Bureau involved with the Greening Program bring the produce to the pantry located at the Thomas H. Slater Center the following morning.

Frank Williams, executive director of the White Plains Youth Bureau told The White Plains Examiner that about three years ago students participating in the greening program decided to visit the farmers market to learn about growing and harvesting techniques from the farmers selling there. “They were curious what the farmers did with left over produce,” explained Williams. “Out of that discussion the students suggested giving the produce to local groups serving the needy. The Ecumenical Food Pantry was identified and the program has continued over the years.”

Williams, who’s family owns a 100-acre farm, said he grew up working the land. “I did not expect to revisit some of the experiences I had in my youth today.”

Williams believes that farming teaches respect for the environment and that translates into respect for all life. “Many of these students were not familiar with fresh produce,” Williams said. “When they grow their own vegetables and then eat them, they become interested in finding out what else they can grow as well as eat. If they grow carrots and tomatoes and taste them, they are more likely to want those vegetables as a continuing part of the diet.”

The Youth Bureau Greening Program utilizes community garden space at Baldwin Farm, New York Presbyterian Hospital, a plot at Bethel Baptist Church, and a new location at Sterling and Prospect in the Highlands neighborhood. “We plan to do a flower garden at Calvary Baptist Church,” next season, Williams noted. “We are looking to work with houses of worship because they have land that can be used for gardens and the programs lead to compassionate community involvement.”

About 15 students from the Berkeley College campus in White Plains took part in the summer greening program as a community service project. The White Plains after school program enlists about 100 students each session. In the fall Williams expects to host a community party at one of the gardens where the students will cook and serve the fruits of their harvest.

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