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Dayton Foodbank harvests locally grown greens despite cold weather

A Dayton Foodbank worker harvesting greens from from the Beverly K. Greenehouse at the food banks urban farm.
Courtesy of Dayton Foodbank Inc.
A Dayton Foodbank worker harvesting greens from from the Beverly K. Greenehouse at the food banks urban farm.

Back in September the Dayton Foodbank unveiled its new hydroponic greenhouse. It was a way to serve more fresh, locally grown vegetables to residents facing food insecurity in the Miami Valley.

In mid-December it began harvesting its first batch of greens grown onsite.

Lauren Tappel, the food bank's Development & Marketing Manager, said the harvest comes at a time when the food bank typically sees an uptick of food assistance through the holidays.

“Winter can often be harder on families' budgets, so it's exciting to be harvesting lettuce for the first time just because it's a big milestone for us,” Tappel said “Also specifically at this time of year to offer these fresh leafy greens to our clients who really may need our support.”

Most of the harvested bags of mixed greens were distributed to clients who came to the food banks drive through.

In recent years, the food bank has expanded its gardening capacity. It’s added a composting facility and even a bucket compost program to help minimize food waste. Since beginning its gardening program, the food bank has harvested over 30,000 pounds of produce.

Tappel said the onsite growing facilities not only benefits the families who need the food, but it also serves as a learning tool for the community.

“A lot of us feel disconnected to our food system,” Tappel said. “So being able to build that connection in an area that's closer to the city and the urban core is really exciting as well.”

The greenhouse is just another way the food bank plans to add more sustainable and beneficial solutions to food insecurity in the Miami Valley, according to Tappel

The Foodbank will be distributing more harvested greens again in January along with other food essentials — which are always available at the food bank or its partner agencies — for anyone who needs it.

Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.