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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.

 

 

A New Way to Feed the Hungry


Left Foot offers a new way to eliminate hunger in our community!

CWU student intern, George Nigro, shows off a weekly CSA share.

We realize that some of our market and co-op customers are not aware of our nonprofit status or the social programs we offer; they simply love our exceptional produce. Others support Left Foot because of our mission to provide employment for people with intellectual disabilities and for local youth. What most people may not be aware of is that Left Foot is also dedicated to bringing quality organic produce to the needy and ending hunger in our community. We have been a contributor to the Thurston County Food Bank for many years and donate produce each week. There are, however, thousands of senior citizens who live rurally or are homebound. Left Foot’s newest community partner, Senior Services for South Sound addresses this need through the Senior Nutrition Program (SNP) which provides over 80,000 nutritious meals to 2,400 seniors each year in Thurston County alone.

Seniors are too often undervalued in our society and, during the winter months especially, can feel isolated. SNP brings much needed social interaction as well as nutritious meals to those who may be lonely and in need. For some individuals, their Meals on Wheels (MOW) volunteer driver is the only person that they will see for that day or week.

While the SNP budget allows only $1.40 per meal, making it nearly impossible to purchase all of their produce locally and organically, they continually seek new ways to support local farmers while serving the highest quality food to seniors. Enter Left Foot Organics!  We have already begun building a partnership with SNP by offering fresh organic produce at reduced prices, but we would like to do much more. This is where YOU come in. We are asking our community of LFO supporters to consider purchasing a CSA share to donate to the Senior Nutrition Program. Our goal is to subsidize our remaining ten CSA shares for local seniors in need.

Our dedicated crew, work rain or shine to bring top quality veggies to our community.

This is the time of year where many of us pause to count the blessings in our lives, open our hearts a little wider, and find opportunities to give back to our community in a meaningful way. If you are unable to donate a full or half share, consider making a one-time (or monthly) contribution to help offset SNP’s purchase of our produce.  Contact us at the farm (360- 754-1849)  to pledge your support to end hunger in our community. Or visit the Left Foot Organics web page to donate online. Help us to help those who need it most. No gift is to great or too small; together we can make a difference!

About Senior Services for South Sound

Friends enjoy an SNP meal and some social time at the Olympia Senior Center.

Senior Services for South Sound is a private, tax-exempt corporation governed by a volunteer board. Established in 1973, the Agency provides comprehensive services to seniors and disabled adults in Thurston and Mason County. Their mission is to celebrate the lives of older adults and their families by providing an array of services that help seniors remain vital and independent in the community.

The Meals on Wheels program provides frail, homebound seniors with 5-7 nutritious meals each week. In 2011 MOW served 42,350 meals to 327 seniors in Thurston County. Our MOW volunteers often take the time to visit with seniors and will report suspected abuse, neglect or self-endangerment to APS as appropriate. On more than one occasion, drivers have found a senior in distress and have called “911” on their behalf, hence saving that person’s life.

The congregate (on-site) meal program provides seniors the opportunity to socialize and share a nutritious meal in a welcoming setting at six locations. Meals are available to anyone 60 years of age or older for a suggested donation of $3-$6. Last year 38,237 congregate meals fed 1,949 clients in Thurston County.

MOW and the congregate meals program help ensure that disabled, frail and  homebound seniors have the nutrition needed to sustain their health. All menus and special diets are planned by a Registered Dietitian and all clients have the opportunity to receive nutritional consultation as needed
For more information about Senior Services for South Sound and to find out how you can get involved, visit their website today!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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