Watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings of Swiss chard and apples are two of the designs on the gift cards the Farm to Family Fund will be selling during the first three Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Markets. The funds will help purchase food from farmers to help the hungry in Bloomington. (Courtesy images)
Watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings of Swiss chard and apples are two of the designs on the gift cards the Farm to Family Fund will be selling during the first three Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Markets. The funds will help purchase food from farmers to help the hungry in Bloomington. (Courtesy images)
Grateful, thanksgiving. Those are words used by volunteers who help with the Farm to Family Fund this year after completing a pilot project with the Tuesday Farmers’ Market and gearing up for the seventh year of helping at the Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market.

Helping both farms and families is the whole reason the Farm to Family Fund exists and this past year has been a year of firsts for the Bloomington area group. First, it became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group and, second, it distributed funds and food during the Bloomington Tuesday Farmers’ Market as part of a pilot project.

The Farm to Family Fund mission is to provide healthful, sustainably produced food available to people with low incomes and at the same time support local farmers. The fund purchases food at half price at the end of the market from farmers who are willing to sell produce that hasn’t sold. The funds for the Tuesday market were provided from a private foundation.

During the 17-week market, which was open June through September, the Farm to Family Fund purchased $18,785.02 worth of produce and eggs for $9,392.51. It was all donated to Mother Hubbard's Cupboard.

“Sometimes there was a lot,” said Deborah Piston-Hatlen, president of the Farm to Family board.

In total, 14.75 bushels of apples, 100 pounds of tomatoes, 558 pounds of cucumbers, 31 bunches of radishes, 33 quarts of green beans, 114 bunches of Swiss chard, 30 boxes of blackberries, 40 pounds of butternut squash, 208 containers of microgreens, 45 pounds of peppers, 40 heads of Romaine lettuce and 1,244 pounds of squash were donated to the pantry.

In comments given to Farm to Family by Kristen Lucas of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, she said Tuesday was a good day for the program, because Mother Hubbard’s doesn’t have food delivery on Wednesday.

“The farmers reported it was helpful to them,” Piston-Hatlen said.

An unexpected first for the fund staff and volunteers came when controversy and protests at the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market suspended the market for a few weeks. Hoosier Hills Food Bank collaborated with Farm to Family Fund and a private donor to provide financial support to some of the vendors who lost income during that time.
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