Growing Food, Growing Community – Together with Binghamton Food Rescue
Food insecurity is rising even more rapidly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. VINES recognizes that it takes the whole community working together to ensure our neighbors have access to fresh food. Binghamton Food Rescue (BFR), a completely volunteer run organization, has been working for the past four years to recover unsold food from farmer’s markets and other retailers and redistribute it into local neighborhoods. As COVID-19 broke out in Broome County, BFR worked alongside many local non-profits in the area by activating their volunteer base to deliver food to homebound neighbors. Eliana Epstein, who is both a volunteer for BFR and a co-coordinator for the VINES Corbett Avenue Garden, was part of this initiative. At the same time, the growing season was beginning. “I noticed there was so much empty space at the garden,” she says, “there were areas that were underutilized and overridden with weeds.”
With more and more people coming to their weekly food distributions, BFR reached out to collaborate with VINES to grow food in the unused spaces in two of VINES community gardens. “We wanted to be more in control of the food that we are receiving because we are entirely reliant on donations,” says Eliana. Having this source for fresh vegetables diversifies the supply going to the BFR food distributions. “We thought if no one was on the waiting list for the beds we might as well be using them and keeping that soil nice and healthy for next year, too.”
Binghamton Food Rescue has held a number of COVID-friendly workdays in both the Corbett Ave and Otsiningo gardens where their beds are located. Food grown in these beds is distributed into the community through BFR at 85 Walnut Street in Binghamton from 1:30-2:30 on Saturdays as well as through a few community meals in the area; including the one at the United Presbyterian Church on Chenango Street (where the VINES office is located) and St. Michael’s Church on Clinton Street in Binghamton.
Anyone interested can attend the Saturday distribution where there is free seasonal produce, non-perishables, and a mutual aid table with items such as: kitchen goods, baby formula, and cleaning supplies. There is no sign up needed and no income restrictions. If you are interested in volunteering with BFR or donating extra produce from your garden, please check out the Binghamton Food Rescue Facebook page or contact BFR at firstname.lastname@example.org.