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Left Foot Is Closing But Our Mission Lives On!


When Ann Vandemann founded Left Foot Organics in 2001, nobody knew how many lives would be changed or how many seasons the farm would weather.  Over the past twelve years Left Foot has grown from season to season to meet the needs of our customers and community. Our employment program for the disabled was the hallmark of our farm and together with our training program for youth, individuals learned job skills and farming while being paid.  Furthermore, our interaction with the community via volunteer opportunities, market sales and our CSA program, made Left Foot a much-loved organization. And so it is with great regret that the board and staff must now announce the closing of Left Foot Organics as of February 2013.

mitzvah.group.beth

Farm Manager, Lydia-Beth (right) and community members from Temple Beth Hatfiloh show off the last winter squash harvest.

These are difficult times for many small nonprofits across the country; an ever increasing demand on a shrinking base of philanthropic gifts has caused funding shortages for many organizations.

Although farm production and sales flourished, it wasn’t enough to fund our social programs which require substantial staff and facilities as compared with a for-profit farm.  In addition, much of our equipment and buildings need extensive repair.  LFO simply does not have the capital to meet these and other financial obligations this year.

The Left Foot staff wish to express our collective gratitude to every individual who donated money, resources or time to help fulfill our mission. Left Foot has always enjoyed strong community support.  Over the years, literally thousands of individuals worked side by side with people with developmental disabilities or purchased the produce they grew. Together we learned the importance of sustainable and organic farming in an inclusive environment where everybody was valued. In keeping with the spirit of the organization, we hope that you will carry our mission of inclusion into your own lives.  We encourage you to continue your support of local, organic farming by joining another CSA, buying organic produce and shopping at farmer’s markets.  Although left Foot Organics is closing, it will remain in the hearts of those who worked our fields and shared our vision.  We did a lot of work with a lot of love these past twelve years, but everything must come to an end at some time.  And so Left Foot closes the same way it opened: with gratitude and respect!

Me too

 Hidden in every ending is a new beginning.

 

 

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Attitude of Gratitude


You are invited to an Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration

Join us in celebrating this Thanksgiving season with those who value our commitment to creating an inclusive community.  As you know,  inclusion is a cornerstone of Left Foot’s mission, and because Interfaith Works shares this vision for our community, they have invited us to participate in the 29th Annual Thanksgiving celebration. The event will feature local music, poetry and speakers from many faiths. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this event where our Executive Director, Victoria Wortberg, will discuss our mission and goals to broaden community involvement in the future.  You will have a chance to demonstrate support for both organizations with a gift contribution to be split between Left Foot and Interfaith Works. Please consider joining us this Sunday to meet your neighbors and demonstrate your commitment to creating lasting social change through compassion and cooperation .

Attitude of Gratitude

The 29th Annual Community Interfaith Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 18th, 3:00pm

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

1515 Harrison Ave NW, Olympia

Click HERE for more information!

Our Incredible Community!


What a remarkable community we live in! 

I am consistently delighted at the goodwill that flows from our community back to Left Foot Organics. Wherever I go, from tabling events to  coincidental meetings on the street, people know about Left Foot and express their appreciation for the good work we do and great food we grow, but nothing has illustrated this as strongly as the generosity demonstrated at our 7th Annual Fun Farm Formal. The event was held on September 29th, and was huge success.

Board President, Pat O’Neil shares a laugh with LFO Grower, Joe Hocker

This year’s event was planned and organized by a committed group of volunteers and Board Members who, in spite of a short planning period, set the bar high and met their mark to put together a successful event.  From gathering the more than eighty donated auction items from local businesses and individuals to procuring the salmon and gathering decorations, the Event Committee did an outstanding job.

What impressed me most though, was the warmth and support of our guests. These folks came out to demonstrate their ongoing commitment and to renew their bond with LFO.  We welcomed current and former employees,  their families, donors, CSA members, local politicians, representatives from other like minded organizations, farmers, artists and poets, each one making their contribution to ensure the future of Left Foot Organics is solid, stable and fertile.

The White sisters took a truckload of raw materials from the farm and transformed the place with bouquets in autumn colors.

The evening began with our proud LFO employees greeting guests as they arrived.

First stop: our  Farm stand where folks could buy an LFO tote bag and fill it up with their choice of vegies.

Grower, Richard Huffine , his brother Robert, and their Assistant, Chris Sullivan, arrived early and eagerly awaited for the event to get under way.

Live music set the tone for wine and appetizer hour.

Poet Sydney Barker created and read an original tribute to Left Foot that touched the very heart of the organization.

Guests check in on their bid in the final minutes of the silent auction.

Emcee extraordinaire, Gary Altman, conducted the live auction before dinner was served.

Sam Boesenberg takes the stage to tell his story and highlight the importance of the Growing Partner program.

Yes, of course, we raised much needed funds, but perhaps as importantly, we raised spirits and planted seeds for new relationships.  If any doubts existed about our future, they surely dissolved in the enthusiasm that filled the room as we listened to Victoria Wortberg, our new Executive Director, outline the path we would take toward achieving our mission and creating a fiscally sound future for our organization.  Finally, we heard from some of our employees who stepped up to the mic and spoke heartfelt testimonials about the impact LFO has had on their lives.

In closing, the entire staff would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who contributed and participated: LFO Board of Directors,  Spatichad Enterprises, US Foods, Northern Fish,  Olympia Federal Savings, Ellen Parks, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 443, and the entire Event Committee.  We’d also like to thank our Founder, Ann Vandeman, for having the vision and determination to create a farm where the contributions of people of all abilities are valued, where respect for the land is paramount, and where some of the finest organic vegetables in our region are grown. It is an honor to carry that vision forward.

 Ann Vandeman’s daughter, Geraldine, reminding us all why we do what we do!

by Sky Myers, Volunteer Program Coordinator

Why “Left Foot” Organics?


I am often asked why our farm is called Left Foot Organics, so I thought I would take a moment to relay the story here.  When the farm was founded in 2001, the name Left Foot was adopted from an inspirational film made in 1989 by the talented  director, Jim Sheridan and starred the brilliant young actor, Daniel Day Lewis. My Left Foot is the true story of Christy Brown, a child with crippling cerebral palsy born into a poor Irish family.  Christy is able to move only his left foot and speaks in nearly unintelligible, guttural sounds. His mother, recognizing her son’s intelligence, helps Christy to master basic physical activities and educates him. Christy eventually develops into a brilliant painter and author using only his left foot to write and paint. There is an especially touching scene in which the neighborhood kids are playing a game of football (soccer), and they bring Christy out to participate in the game and kick the ball. It was this scene, as the story goes, that inspired our founder to name the farm Left Foot Organics in the spirit of inclusion.

Inclusion is an important part of our mission; we hire individuals with developmental disabilities and offer them meaningful, paid, year round employment. These employees are referred to as Growers here on the farm and they are an integral part of our workforce.  In addition to our paid Growers, Left Foot also serves individuals with disabilities from our community in other ways. We partner with organizations such as Morningside to offer a variety of volunteer experiences for people with disabilities. Lannes Frazier is one  such individual. Lannes was raised on a farm and had a strong desire to work in a farm environment. Lannes comes out every week with an aide and assists with preparing our eggs for sale and does some cleaning in our farm kitchen. Lannes, who volunteers with two other organizations as well, told me he absolutely loves to come to the farm and work around the chickens. Lannes has been volunteering with us for over a year now, and we certainly enjoy his smiling face and enthusiasm.


Another way we impact individuals with disabilities is by offering educational opportunities through our partnership with the Thurston County Parks and Recreation’s Specialized Recreation Program. Last week we hosted a group of seven individuals who came out to learn about organic farming practices and our employment program. The group toured the farm learning about chicken care, composting, and starting, transplanting and weeding crops. Joe Hocker, one of our experienced Growers, discussed his job duties and answered questions. Participants then went into the fields to harvest three varieties of beans, zucchini and to dig up a some red potatoes. We then prepared a farm fresh meal from their harvest and shared lunch outdoors. Everybody received a lovely bouquet of flowers to take home with them.

Though we can only hire a limited number of Growers, through programs like these we are able to impact a greater number of individuals with disabilities. We believe it is crucial to emphasize the value of local, organic food while demonstrating a work environment that is truly inclusive, but we cannot do it without the greater support from our community.  How can you support our program?  We always need volunteers to work with us, and we also take cash and in kind donations. Call the farm for more information (360)754.1849

And stay tuned for details on our upcoming Fun Farm Formal on September 29th; we would love to include you among our supporters! Until then, keep eating your veggies!

by Sky Myers, Volunteer Program Coordinator

Summer Potluck at the Farm


Left Foot Organics would like to invite all our friends, families, CSA members, employees, volunteers, board members, former employees, market shoppers, and curiosity seekers to a Summer Potluck Dinner at the farm.

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

6pm – 8pm

If you have never been out to the farm, this is a wonderful opportunity to see where your beautiful veggies get their start. Bring a dish to share and come out to meet our new employees, say hello to old friends, and enjoy a warm summer evening with good food and good company. 

For directions to the farm, click here.

2012 Annual Plant Sale this Weekend!


Left Foot Organics is holding its Annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale Saturday, May 12th from 10am to 3pm.  You don’t want to miss this opportunity to purchase all your vegetable and herb starts.  We also have a small selection of Native plants available for purchase.

Buying from Left Foot helps support our program to create jobs and teach employment skills to developmentally disable adults and rural youth.  Come to the farm on Saturday to meet our employees and find the perfect Mother’s Day gift.  Go to our website to see our flyer.

See you Saturday!!

Left Foot Lends a Hand to Nisqually Tribe’s Garden


Left Foot and NIsqually Farm Crews

Left Foot at Nisqually Gardens

Left Foot Organics crew participated in their first “Crew Exchange” event last August.  Growers and Growing Partners, along with Left Foot Staff,  spent a day working in the fields at the Nisqually Gardens.  This event gave them the opportunity to see another garden with similarities to their work site and a chance to see something “new and different,” as Glenn (former LFO Grower) would say.  Left Foot Growers contributed their experienced hands to weeding thimbleberries and strawberries and received a tour from Carlin and Caitlin, the co-managers.  They saw Nisqually employees weeding weeds similar to those that we have on the farm and LFO crew members were able to apply their skills and knowledge to provide a service at Nisqually gardens.

In the vegetable garden, they could identify many of the crops growing — peas, beets, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes — because they help weed and harvest them at Left Foot.  Touring the medicinal plant garden, they learned about other uses of plants besides just eating them.  Michael, a grower, experienced it first-hand when he was bit by a mosquito.  Grace, a tribal member and garden employee, had him apply wormwood and a poultice of English plantain to his cheek to relieve the itching, and it worked.  Carlin described other activities the garden provides, such as making plant medicine and preserving food, which really interested Meru, another one of our growers.

Left Foot employees experienced appreciation and acknowledgment for their work as Carlin gifted each of each them with a tote bag.  Left Foot brought some plants to give to their garden, too.  Left Foot employees appreciated the opportunity to visit and experience a culture different from their own but one that has shared values of respect and inclusion.  Nisqually crew members came to Left Foot Organics on August 25th to complete the work exchange.

Historical Reference  Farm Manager, Lydia Beth, worked for the tribe as a gardener before coming to Left Foot, growing food and native plants for the community under a two-year USDA grant.  Unfortunately, the project ended with the funding.  The tribal garden has since been reestablished on an old farm overlooking the Nisqually delta owned by the tribe.  This skwda?deb (Lushootseed for “gathering place”) provides employment for tribal members, distributes fresh food to the community, and creates a space for all people to garden and gather together.  Elders, families, work-release prisoners, and school groups all help to grow food and traditional medicinal plants at the garden.