This is a guest post from Fiona Marie Maloney McCrystle.
But how does one arrive at such a unique relationship with the Foodbank? It’s an interesting question, and we asked one such farmer, Charlie Siegchrist of Barber Farm in Jericho, VT, to share his story with us.
Charlie and wife Jean are owners of the Barber Farm, the third place settled in Jericho about 230 years ago. The farm started to draw attention and visitors in the 1870’s when the Civil War colonel Edgar Barber, who finished his service with a withered arm from a wound at the Battle of the Wilderness, adopted a then-uncommon strategy. To keep the farm going he became a pioneer in agricultural tourism. People from as far away as Chicago and Washington, D.C., came to spend summers on the farm.
After Barber died, the property was bought by one of those summer guests, a successful inventor of telephone related devices and the farm became a family compound until the late 1950s. Charlie happened to marry “a woman who grew up
The farm’s relationship with the Vermont Foodbank began back in the 1980s when, every week, Charlie would clean out the remains in the veggie cooler and drive the goods up to the Burlington food shelf. Back then, the farm used to grow 40 acres of produce, mainly strawberries and an assortment of vegetables. But Charlie now defines himself as “semi-retired,” having since leased the majority of his property to another farm up the road.
However, semi-retirement does not keep Charlie from supporting the Foodbank.
“Back in 2008, when the financial world was kind of blowing up, I had the opportunity to raise a bunch of food for the Foodbank, so I did,” he explains matter-of-factly.
Seeing the need around him, Charlie responded by beginning to grow a smaller but substantial crop of produce intended specifically for the Foodbank, a practice that he has continued through the present day. His varied contributions include, but are not limited to, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, squash, strawberries and tomatoes, usually about a quarter acre a year.
Barber Farm has now been working with the Foodbank for over 30 years, but what is the future of this special partnership? Luckily Charlie, with no hesitation, says he plans to continue his contributions.
“It makes me feel good,” he said simply.
In that positive light, we hope to have Charlie Siegchrist as a member of the Vermont Foodbank community for many years to come.