JK Community Farm in Purcellville donates 100% of its harvest to those in need
Located on 150 acres, the nonprofit JK Community Farm began in 2018 with a mission to provide fresh, nutritious food to those in the community who otherwise might never have had access to it. And they keep that promise.
“We are the largest non-profit community farm in the United States that donates 100% of what we grow to the community in need,” explains Executive Director Samantha Kuhn. That’s about 230,000 pounds of produce and protein per year.
“For me, food is a basic human right, and everyone should have access to what their body needs to survive, lead a healthy life, and have proper brain function,” Kuhn says. “When I think of organic food, it’s just not fair that money can make a difference in access to it.”
To determine what to plant, Kuhn says they worked with their pantry partners — Loudoun Hunger Relief, Food for Others, Arlington Food Assistance Center and DC Central Kitchen — to conduct an informal survey outlining the desires and the food needs of each local community. serve.
The survey revealed that 77.8% of respondents consume products daily. This has helped the organization plan for the upcoming growing season, which kicked off in May at the farm’s fourth annual Plant-a-Thon – an event where teams of volunteers come to help plant crops for the year. .
The most requested products were sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, peppers, green salads, asparagus and tomatoes. Many customers have also requested fruits like watermelon, in addition to vegetables.
And JK Community Farm delivered. The farm will be expanded to include an organic orchard as well as perennial fruit growing as part of its next phase.
With a staff of just two, JK Community Farm has grown tremendously over the past four years with the help of its community volunteers – all 4,500 of them.
“Our volunteers are absolutely everything to us,” says Kuhn. “They help plant and harvest with us, and we’re so blown away by everyone who comes out and how amazing they are.”
Promoting food education is also an important objective for the association.
“We can stock pantries with healthy foods, but that means nothing if people don’t know the importance of whole, nutrient-dense foods,” says Kuhn.
The farm offers a field trip program that allows students to take self-guided tours.
“Our field trips start in the greenhouse to learn about plant cycles and the edible parts of plants,” says Kuhn. “We then teach the children about transplantation and what [plants] need to survive. »
The farm also offers fun and hands-on activities to help children learn. For example, Kuhn says they’ll have students put soil in a mason jar so they can see it separate into the different layers of soil.
A rainbow scavenger hunt is another fun activity sometimes included on school tours.
“Students see the colors that grow on the farm and learn what those colors mean to our bodies and why it’s important to eat the rainbow,” says Kuhn.
It’s been an incredible journey for the farm so far, she says.
“Every time the trucks stop and bring some of the food back to the community, it’s very exciting for us,” says Kuhn. “We love knowing that with all the food we donate to the pantry, we are able to help eliminate the consumption of certain processed foods and improve the health of our community.”
Interested in volunteering? Opportunities are available every day of the week, and there are no age or gardening experience requirements. Learn more about jkcommunityfarm.org.
This story originally appeared in our August issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.