Plant against food insecurity this summer

The Food Pantry of Highlands, Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry, and the Many Hands Peace Farm invite members of the Highlands-Cashiers community to Plant for the Plateau this summer.

On the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau, numerous families face food insecurity. Many people struggle to make ends meet with our area’s slower economy during the winter months and when unexpected events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, arise.

During the summer months, planting fresh vegetables to donate to the food pantries allow these organizations to allocate those needed dollars towards other products. This year, to create a synergistic community effort to plant, these organizations are encouraging everyone to pledge, plant, email, and harvest.

Plant for the Plateau is a new food initiative to help local food pantries meet the needs of the community over the summer.

Marty Rosenfield, Director of the Food Pantry of Highlands, encourages all community members to participate.

“In Macon County 20% of the population faces food scarcity 365 days of the year and you would be making a difference,” said Rosenfield.

The idea is simple, pledge and plant one or more of the following needed crops: tomatoes, squash, peppers, corn, onions, potatoes, carrots, and beans. Then email with a list of the vegetables you pledge to grow, date planted, expected harvest date, and whether you plan to donate to the food pantry in Highlands or Cashiers.

This information will then be added to a live Google Document for both pantries to access so they can keep an eye on projected inventory and consider this while budgeting. Then, harvest and deliver your crops.

“The biggest challenge we face is providing healthy, fresh items. We can assure everyone involved, the produce will help these families through this difficult time,” said Bill Fehrs of Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry in Cashiers.

To encourage community gardening, a Facebook Group named Plant for the Plateau is available, where local farmers and gardeners, including the farmers of the Many Hands Peace Farm, can share tips and tricks.

If you would like to join the effort but don’t have room to plant a garden, the Many Hands Peace Farm (MHPF) has field space to plant but needs your help. Located at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center, MHPF is an educational farm dedicated to teaching apprentices and guests about the concepts and techniques of regenerative agriculture.

Members of the plateau eager to lend an extra hand can contact the MHPF at 828.526.5838.

“We’re excited to join in this effort to share some of the abundance we have in our community. And it’s a great opportunity to come together as growers and share any tips, experiences, and inspiration,” said Joey Kyle, Manager of Many Hands Peace Farm.

Don’t like the idea of dirt underneath your fingernails? There are still plenty of ways to help. Both the Food Pantry of Highlands and Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry are always in need of volunteers and donor dollars.

If you don’t have either the time or money to spare, share information from the Plant for the Plateau Facebook Group or from the Facebook page of either food pantry or the MHPF to spread awareness about this community effort.

On the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau, fighting food insecurity requires both the seeds of love and nutrients. Help us plant both this season.

Article by Kat Ford

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