Fresh Produce Donor Feature: Bob and Judy's Farm Market
Each year, more than 200 million pounds of edible, excess produce is grown and unharvested or unsold in Minnesota. Local growers are stepping up to help end hunger by donating that locally-grown fresh produce to help feed our hungry neighbors. One of those growers is Bob Wilts. With his support and growers like him, last year Second Harvest Heartland was able to collect and distribute millions of pounds of produce.
Bob Wilts and his wife Judy run a 55 acre produce farm and farm market in Big Lake, MN. Like most produce farms, everything is handpicked during harvest time so the cost of labor is significant. Prior to 2014 Bob had donated small amounts of excess produce when they could, mostly to local food shelves and soup kitchens. The reality for Bob, and many farmers like him, is that it’s most often easier and more cost effective to turn the excess produce back into the ground if it can’t be sold, than it is to harvest it.
“You always want to be part of the community and help. It is hard to see produce that’s not utilized, but a real part of business is the cost of labor,” says Wilts. “You can’t always afford to spend money just to make your heart feel good, even though you might want to.”
Thanks to the Farm to Foodshelf grant funded by the State of Minnesota beginning in 2014, Bob and Judy could afford to increase their donations because grant funding helped offset costs to harvest and pack for donation their excess vegetables , which would’ve otherwise gone unharvested and unsold.
For Bob, the opportunity to get produce on to the plates of his hungry neighbors is something that makes his heart feel good and we are grateful for the partnership.
Learn more about how Second Harvest Heartland is sourcing and distributing more fresh produce by partnering with local growers through our Share Fresh Minnesota program, supported by Farm to Foodshelf.