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Volunteers Plant Food for the Needy

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Volunteers in Josephine County are turning out in droves to provide fresh food for those in need. On Saturday the Josephine County Food Bank held their annual Planting Day at their Grants Pass farm.

About 80 people showed up for this year’s event at the Raptor Creek Farm. The event rings in a growing season that nets about 50,000 pounds of fresh produce each year.

“It’s just tough for a lot of people, and we give them the things that fill the void,” said volunteer Ron Willing.

For three years the farm has struggled to meet the demand of roughly 12,000 hungry mouths in the county each month. But the food bank is only using less than a third of their land at the farm.

Fortunately, that’s about to change.

“Thankfully, we’re going to be breaking ground in the next month or so on a food distribution warehouse that will have flash freezers,” said Planting Day organizer Jill Gleysteen.

Until now, the biggest limitation to growing more food has been the inability to preserve it.

Gleysteen says new flash freezers and 10,000 feet of space will allow them to finally realize that untapped potential.

“That will allow us to not only keep more of the food that we grow, but expand the food we grow,” said Gleysteen.

The warehouse is set to fully open next spring, while the resulting farm expansion would be gradual.

In the meantime, volunteers say the more people who show up, the more they can make the most of the land they have.

“That’s the key thing is volunteering,” said Willing. “You get out, help out, and like me at the end of the year you see the success and you feel good about it.”