First Fruits Farm celebrates expansion to serve more hungry

by | May 26, 2023

FREELAND, Md. — First Fruits Farm, a non-profit ministry dedicated to growing and providing fresh produce to those experiencing hunger in the Mid-Atlantic region, kicked off the farm’s 25th season of feeding the hungry with the official opening of its new Distribution Center, sharing of its service goals for the 2023 harvesting season, and an announcement of newly acquired farmland. 
The farm hosted a blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new center on May 17 with more than 250 guests in attendance.
The distribution center, an expansion of the previous shop building, nearly doubled the footprint to over 13,000 square feet on the farm property.
Impacting the operations for the 2023 harvest season and beyond, features of the distribution center include production lines for packaging, large open and enclosed storage areas with refrigeration, a new loading dock to accommodate vehicles of all sizes, equipment/repair shop, additional offices and restrooms.
“With the need remaining so high, and so many struggling to meet their basic needs, the farm is here to help, and each season we are called on to do more with finite resources.  To better serve our partners, we made the significant, strategic investment in the distribution center. It is transformational, serving as the heart of our operations and offering myriad possibilities of what’s to come as we look toward the next 25 years,” said Richard Bernstein, executive director of First Fruits Farm.
Funding for the distribution center was secured in full with support from several foundations as well as the farm’s first-ever support from state funds.
First Fruits Farm donates 100 percent of everything it grows to feed hungry people in the region through its ever-expanding network of distribution partners. In 2023, First Fruits Farm expects to partner with 200 distribution organizations, a 450-percent increase from the 35 they worked with in 2020, to provide fresh, healthy food to those in need, according to a news release.
The farm also anticipates having the help of about 18,000 volunteers of all ages who will come to the farm.
The farm is expanding its land base with the unanticipated but recent acquisition of a neighboring farm. 
The acquisition adds 60 tillable acres and an anticipated increase in production to about 2.8 million pounds of food this year and more than 3 million pounds in the years ahead, meeting and surpassing the goal of the farm’s current strategic plan.
“Along with the new farmland and distribution center, our volunteer community and generous benefactors are vital assets to the next generation of First Fruits Farm,” said Bernstein. “We are committed to doing our part, but we can’t do this alone. As we celebrate 25 seasons of blessing the hungry by nourishing body, mind, and spirit, we give thanks to all those who help us touch the thousands in our region who need a simple grace from God. Go be ambassadors in a world that needs us.”



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