Getting More Local Sweet Potatoes Onto More Local Plates

Laughing Child Farm is a family-run Vermont farm that lost their large-scale buyers when colleges closed due to COVID-19. Because of the incredible way you’ve stepped up to support coronavirus hunger relief efforts, an additional 10,000 pounds of their homegrown sweet potatoes are on the way to neighbors in need.

Timothy and Brooke own and operate Laughing Child Farm, a sweet potato farm in Pawlet, Vermont, along with their four kids. “We are now the extracurricular activities,” says Timothy when he talks about having all the kids home, since schools closed in March, while running the farm. “Whereas before, this time of year everybody would be at softball, we’d be running around doing all sorts of after-school programs, but that’s not happening anymore. We’re the after-school program.”

When the coronavirus outbreak closed colleges, Laughing Child Farm lost their largest market. Timothy explains, “As soon as the colleges shut down the college market just went—our sweet potato sales just dropped right off.” As part of an effort to support Vermont farmers while increasing food distribution to meet the unprecedented surge in need, the Foodbank was able to step in and purchase some of these potatoes—an act made possible thanks to you. “The Foodbank coming in and buying an additional 10,000 pounds was helpful,” shares Timothy. “That was important.”

For the past few years, the Foodbank has contracted with Laughing Child Farm to provide nourishing, locally grown produce to people facing hunger around the state. Timothy says this contract helps in a lot of ways: Pre-planning allows the farm to save money, more product allows for higher grading standards and better quality potatoes, and for the potatoes that don’t meet the high bar for market? They get picked up and distributed statewide through the Foodbank’s gleaning program.

“The social aspect of the farm is important to us,” says Timothy. “So we’re very thankful that we can make a living, that we can pay our employees well, and that [the sweet potatoes] are accessible to all Vermonters is also important to us. It makes us feel very thankful that the Foodbank is stepping in, that the donors step in, and help with that.”

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