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Agricultural Innovation Center at Tabler Farm shares crop with those in need

ISSUED: 6 April 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The winter crop that has been growing in the greenhouse at Shepherd University’s Agricultural Innovation Center at Tabler Farm is going toward helping members of the community who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university is donating food to Shepherdstown Shares, an organization started by the Shepherdstown Visitors Center and Shepherdstown Lions Club in response to the crisis. Shepherdstown Shares is distributing grocery gift cards to a list of local people businesses have had to lay off. The organization is augmenting the gift cards with the fresh produce being harvested and bagged at the Agricultural Innovation Center. The bags are taken to the Wellness Center, where volunteer Kerri Godfrey picks them up for distribution.

“This partnership between Shepherdstown Shares and Shepherd University to help the people of Shepherdstown who are so suddenly and unexpectedly out of work, out of money, puts these beautiful healthy foods to good use,” Godfrey said. “Shepherdstown Fire Department members who should not leave home, several waitstaff, service professionals, and families got bags last week. The recipients are so very appreciative.”

Godfrey says everyone involved is working to have the bags handled as little as possible between the farm and table. Dr. Peter Vila, associate professor of environmental and physical sciences and director, Veterans to Agriculture program, said on March 26, the Shepherd farm donated 18 bags of kale, three bags of spinach, and three bags of mustard greens. On April 2, Haroun Hallack, farm manager, harvested and bagged 14 bags of kale and 6 bags of spinach. Vila said the last of the winter crop will be donated this week with another 20 bags of greens.

“We will then be in our spring planting season and crops will be available depending upon their growth cycle,” Vila said. “Haroun and I are delighted to be able to offer this highly nutritious produce to the community and appreciate the work that Shepherdstown Shares is doing in order to make this available.”

“I am glad we are able to do this,” said Jack Shaw, vice president for campus services. “One of the biggest frustrations I see in this crisis is getting available food into the hands of those who need it. In parts of the country farmers are having to till crops into the soil because they can’t get their produce to market. This is occurring while many desperately need food. I am glad we have so many concerned citizens willing to get this valuable food into needy mouths.”

Marianne Davis, Visitors Center director, said Shepherdstown Shares is thrilled to be able to give fresh food to people struggling with unemployment and food insecurity.

“We are all doing whatever we can—and whatever we can do in the face of this plague will always feel small and inadequate,” Davis said. “Feeding people is an act of great humanity, and to do this is especially illustrative of the kind of place that Shepherd is.”

For more information about Shepherdstown Shares, visit the organization’s Facebook page.

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