Strangers Hill Organics
7480 N Howard Rd, Bloomington, IN 47404 www.strangershillorganics.com

Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Inc.
PO Box 697, Bloomington, Indiana 47402 (812) 334-8374 www.hhfoodbank.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 1, 2009
Contacts:
Strangers Hill Organics — Rick Dietz rick@strangershillorganics.com 812-331-1802
Hoosier Hills Food Bank — Jessica Williams, 334-8374; Julio Alonso, 334-8374

Stranger’s Hill Organics and Hoosier Hills Food Bank announce innovative collaboration, establishing a “Food Bank Field” at the SHO Farm.

In a continuing effort to increase the amount and quality of food provided to area food pantries and soup kitchens, Hoosier Hills Food Bank and Stranger’s Hill Organics are is launching a garden project collaboration. This innovative partnership was proposed by Stranger’s Hill, as a part of their mission — aside from growing great local organic food — is local organic education and giving back to the community that they feel sustains their endeavors. The idea was quickly embraced by the food bank.

Last year Stranger’s Hill Organics donated nearly 1500lbs of food to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. Stranger’s Hill partner Rick Dietz indicated, “We were very happy with our gleaning partnership with the Hoosier Hills Food Bank in 2008, but felt there were ways we could forge an even deeper partnership. And so, we proposed setting aside some acreage for food bank staff and volunteers to grow anything they like — a dedicated ‘food bank field’.”

“This is a very exciting and unique opportunity for the food bank to fulfill several important goals,” said HHFB Executive Director Julio Alonso. “To meet a rapidly growing need, we have had to consider new ways to obtain food. As an agency dependent on donations, we’ve always been happy to collect and distribute whatever we can get, but the opportunity to provide healthy, nutritious fresh produce from a local source is a dream come true.”

Stranger’s Hill partner and farmer Dale Jones stated, “We offered Hoosier Hills half an acre of land on our farm, plant starts, water for crops and on-site expertise in certified organic farming. We’re glad that the food bank determined that this opportunity was too good to pass up.” Hoosier Hills then created a part-time garden project coordinator position and Jessica Williams was recently hired to oversee the project, which will be otherwise managed with volunteers. Williams has extensive farming and gardening experience and has participated in the Plant a Row for the Hungry program through Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard food pantry for several years.

“The food bank’s garden, like most of its other endeavors, is going to be a community affair. Stranger’s Hill has donated the land, plant starts, and staff time preparing the field. Several other area small farms have already donated the use of essential growing supplies. We are still in need of a number of implements and materials—many of which home gardeners may have spares, in kind donations from area businesses, cash donations, and perhaps most importantly volunteers to work in the garden,” said Williams. HHFB has a wish list of items for the garden which can be linked to from www.hhfoodbank.org.

Williams will work with food bank volunteers to plant, cultivate and harvest several types of produce on a half-acre of land provided by Stranger’s Hill, which has also tilled the soil and is providing water for irrigation. The agency plans to grow tomatoes, peppers, green beans, and butternut squash and expects the garden to produce approximately 3,000-7,000 pounds of produce. Growing food is, of course, very dependent upon many seasonal factors including weather and pest pressure.

HHFB will be establishing regular open volunteer hours in the garden starting in June. Individuals or groups are encouraged to attend. Groups looking for a one time project are also welcome to set up special hours. Stranger’s Hill is hoping volunteers will be interested in assisting on the production farm as well.

“We’re looking on this as a pilot project this year. The concept is wonderful and if we determine that we can sustain it into the future we would love to continue working with Stranger’s Hill and potentially develop other garden plots in the community. A recent survey of our member agencies indicated that they would take an additional 100,000 pounds of produce a year if we had it to offer. While that kind of volume is unlikely any time soon, it shows how much need and potential there is,” said Alonso.

Anyone interested in donating garden tools, funds or volunteer time can contact the food bank at 334-8374, garden@hhfoodbank.org or visit www.hhfoodbank.org. Local farmers and gardeners are also encouraged to donate produce through the Plant a Row for the Hungry program.

Anyone interested in produce from the Stranger’s Hill Organics, which is just 6.5 miles from the downtown Farmers’ Market and only a couple of miles from the Food Bank, can find their produce at the Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Bloomingfoods. You can also visit their website at www.strangershillorganics.com where you can sign up for their email news and volunteer lists. Photos from the farm for press use can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strangershillorganics/

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About Stranger’s Hill Organics

Set in the rolling hills of South-central Indiana, Stranger’s Hill Organics is a small farm business specializing in Certified Organic produce. Operated as Stranger’s Hill by founders Dale and Lee Jones for over 30 years, our farm and greenhouse operation has been Certified Organic since 1989, the oldest continually Certified Organic farm in Indiana. In December of 2007, operations were expanded with the purchase of the historic 80-acre Howard Farm, next door to the original Stranger’s Hill farm. Joining founders Dale and Lee Jones in the new venture are Rick Dietz, George Huntington, Heather Reynolds and Dave Rollo. Each brings a wide range of experience and expertise. With the addition of new land—continuously farmed since 1816 and just 6.5 miles from downtown Bloomington—we have increased our production significantly and widened our distribution under the Stranger’s Hill Organics brand. Stranger’s Hill Organics produce and bedding plants are available from early spring until late fall at your nearby Bloomingfoods Co-op locations, Wholefoods in Indianapolis and at the Bloomington Farmers’ Market on Saturday as well. Taste the best the earth can offer… as local as it gets!

About Hoosier Hills Food Bank

Hoosier Hills Food Bank collects and distributes over 2.4 million pounds of food annually to over 100 non-profit agencies in Brown, Lawrence, Orange, Owen, Martin and Monroe counties. www.hhfoodbank.org