By Eva Potter
Volunteers have been busy this spring working on new ideas for the Ellicottville Food Pantry. The need for fresh vegetables led them to the idea of a pantry garden, where they could grow their own right out the back door. After joining Cattaraugus Community Action this past spring, the pantry became eligible to receive vegetable plants and seeds for their pantry garden.
In addition to the garden on Elizabeth Street, the food pantry has become part of a foster gardening program, which involves local gardeners who are willing to grow a few extra plants and then bring the veggies to the pantry as they are ready. Jody Whitmore, Becca Whited and Thresa Wick are acting as surrogate growers and are dedicating portions of their personal gardens to grow produce for the Ellicottville pantry.
Christina Ehlers, director of food security for the Cattaraugus Community Action, said CCA has its own greenhouse and garden in Salamanca, where they start the plants and distribute them to volunteer gardeners and their clients to promote good nutrition. “Ellicottville is just one of 19 in our network that share the need,” said Ehlers.
Now that Ellicottville is in the CCA food pantry network, this locally grown food never leaves the community. Once the yield is weighed and reported back to CCA for tracking purposes, it is distributed directly through the Ellicottville Food Pantry to community members.
Whited, a child care provider, said, “A garden teaches so much – how to plan, where our food comes from, teamwork, nutrition, work ethic, how to grow your own food and what goes into growing the food we buy. Now, my kids here will also learn a lesson in community, charity, pride and that helping others can be fulfilling. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do this!”
Whitmore, a volunteer for Cattaraugus Community Action, works in the organization’s green house and gardens and said, “I’m trying to use it as a place for me and my kids to go volunteer and be part of the community.” She helped Whited build a raised bed for her surrogate plants.
Ehlers said Stayer’s Greenhouse in Allegany, Canticle Farm in Allegany, Native Offerings farm in Otto and the Gowanda Correctional Facility have donated either plants or ripe produce to the CCA fresh produce garden program.
Donations are still needed to get the Ellicottville Food Pantry garden installed. Anyone willing to donate items or volunteer time to help get the garden going and keep it maintained is welcome. If you have landscaping fabric, untreated lumber for edging, vegetable seedlings, watering cans, a long sturdy hose with an adjustable nozzle, hand trowels, shovels and rakes, please call Annie Widger at (716) 699-2940.
What’s better than fresh, local produce grown with love by members of the Ellicottville community for the Ellicottville community?