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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!







Winter CSA? You bet!

Left Foot Organics is pleased to announce our

2012 Winter CSA Program! 

Breezy with a late summer CSA box.

Like many small, sustainable farms across the country, our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program plays a crucial role in our farm operations here at Left Foot Organics.  Here is how it works: first you buy a share of the farm’s harvest at the beginning of the season, then each week you receive a box of  produce throughout the fourteen week season.

Buying seasonal, locally-sourced produce is an excellent way to ensure that you are supporting your local economy.  Joining our CSA Program takes that concept one step further by forging a direct relationship between you and our farm without any middlemen. As a member you will receive a weekly newsletter keeping you informed of farm news, which crops are thriving and what you can expect in your box.  You’ll be a part of a community that recognizes the abilities of all people and shares the common values of eating healthily, encouraging local economies, and supporting responsible stewardship of the land.

It is true that there can be a risk associated with joining a CSA program because Mother Nature can influence production and sometimes a specific crop can fail. The reverse, however, is also true; when there is an abundance of healthy crops, your weekly box will reflect that. With warmer and milder than usual weather predicted for our region this winter, we are expecting an excellent growing season! Our Farm Manager, Lydia Beth,  plants a variety of crops and guarantees that you will receive between four and six different vegetables each week. What will you find in your Winter CSA box?

Here’s a sampling of crops we are planning for this season:

Beets         Brussels Sprouts          Cabbage

Celeriac          Chard           Collards          Garlic        

Kale          Leeks       Mustard Greens          Onions         

Parsnips          Potatoes            Rutabagas          Squash

Maybe you are already a Left Foot supporter, maybe you’ve been a member with another local farm and their season is winding down, or perhaps you’ve heard about CSA programs and wanted to give it a try, but are looking for a smaller commitment. Whatever your situation, we are sure you will be pleased with the many options we offer for our Winter CSA Program.

Ready to find out more? Check out our website www.leftfootorganics.org where you can purchase your membership online and download the nitty gritty details like dates and pick up locations.  We have only a limited number of shares available, so don’t delay.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kye and Eva!

Left Foot Organics  would like a to introduce you to two very special individuals. Out of the 700 or so volunteers who generously offer their time and talents to Left Foot each year, there are many who make a commitment and become regulars at the farm. This season we have been blessed with several very dedicated volunteers who turn out  week after week, rain or shine, to work with us. Today I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge two extraordinary Left Foot volunteers: Kye Bartsch and Eva Fitz.

Kye harvesting and bunching cilantro.

Kye Bartsch heard about us from a family member and started volunteering with us in June. Kye quickly distinguished himself as a reliable worker and great guy to have around. He was offered and decided to accept a position as a Work Share CSA member and began coming every Thursday to work in exchange for his weekly box of veggies.  Kye arrives bright and early each Thursday morning to harvest crops for our CSA shares  and works until 5:30 with our Farm Production Assistant, Breezy Medina. Kye is well known for his sense of humor; after long hours of picking green beans he has been known to have attacks of  “Bean Fever”  a condition causing hilarity and extreme silliness to ensue, but don’t  think that means he isn’t a hard worker! LFO Grower, Joe Hocker, had this to say about Kye, “He has an excellent work ethic and has been a good leader for me and other Growers. I enjoy working with him. Kye works hard.” Kye is quick with a smile and full of anecdotes and life stories. We are fortunate to have him and are thankful for his contribution.

Eva beneath the drying garlic.

There is no such thing as a typical Left Foot volunteer; they come from diverse backgrounds and with varying abilities. Take Eva Fitz, for example. Eva is a senior citizen who grew up in Germany and was trained in gardening there. She is a veteran volunteer who is deeply committed to giving back to her community. She has volunteered in Washington, D.C. working in greenhouses; in Bellingham, WA, grooming Service Dogs; and at Panorama City’s Convalescent Center.  Eva is incredibly fit and strong; when she isn’t volunteering at LFO she is off hiking in the mountains or having other adventures. Eva comes to the farm every Friday morning to work side by side with our Growers and Crew in the fields, offering both guidance and comaraderie. Eva told me she likes to come to Left Foot for the chance to work outside and to spend time with the friends she has made here. We value her for who she is, the work she does, and the richness she brings to our community farm.

To find out how you can become our next volunteer super star contact the Left Foot Volunteer Coordinator at 360.754.1849

by Sky Myers

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

LFO Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Seth Miller, a loyal volunteer at Left Foot since early August 2011.  Seth faithfully rides his bicycle to the farm 4 days a week to work with our crew members.  He has also helped out with the Tumwater Farmers Market several times and tabled the Capital Campus Combined Fund Drive event for us this year.  His dedication and reliable donation of time has been invaluable this fall as we worked through the busy harvesting season.   Here are a few words from Seth about his volunteer experience  over the past few months:

“My wife and I moved to Tumwater at the end of June for her new job with the Tumwater School District.  We began shopping at the Tumwater Farmers Market where I found out about Left Foot and I began to follow the farm’s Facebook page.  When a call went out for volunteers for a Wednesday morning in early August I decided I could help out while I was still in the process of looking for a new job.  I’ve been out almost every weekday morning since to help out.

 One of my favorite things about volunteering at the farm is that there is always something new to learn.  Though I spent many of my morning’s only harvesting zucchini and beans this summer I have appreciated the opportunity to learn about the lifecycle of a farm.

Since I have spent so many mornings at the farm, I have been able to better get to know some of the growers.  I really appreciate that I am often asked how my wife is enjoying her job or about my bike ride to the farm.  It has made for a very welcoming and inclusive work environment.  I enjoy how a farm offers jobs of all varying ability levels.  Even though I only have minimal experience gardening, it seems like there is always something I can do to help out.”

Thank you, Seth for being such a good friend to the farm and wonderful role model for us all.  Your time and contributions are very much appreciated.

If you, or someone you know, is looking for a memorable and fulfilling volunteer experience call Jill, the Volunteer Coordinator at 754-1849 for more information.

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.

Mushrooms Anyone ? ? ?

Mushrooms on a log

Mushroom Propagation

We have an excellent mushroom workshop on planned for our June 18th Volunteer Saturday.  Come work with us on the farm in the morning and then eat a farm grown lunch.  After lunch we will listen to a brief presentation by Casey Mullen from Fungi Perfecti and then make our own spawn with oyster mushrooms and cardboard.  Find out answers to the questions:   

What are mushrooms?  How do they grow? 

What do they need to grow well? 

How can we work with them?

After we make spawn on Saturday, participants will get to watch mycelium grow over the cardboard, then use it to inoculate other materials at home (sawdust, more cardboard, shredded paper / junk mail, etc).

Call us at 754-1849 to volunteer for the day.  We’d love to see you here on the farm!!  All hands are needed during this busy season.