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Mid-Atlantic farmers, volunteers come together for Ida relief efforts

by | Sep 10, 2021

From left, Jonathan Albright and Jesse Albright of Albright Farms and Jamison Hunsberger and Shaun Gillespie of First Fruits Farm, load watermelon on a truck — with a pallet of eggs coming next — bound for communities impacted by Hurricane Ida. (Photo courtesy Albright Farms)

FREELAND, Md. — More than 25 farms across the Mid-Atlantic came together Sept. 7 to support relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ida.
The effort began with First Fruits Farm, a nonprofit Christian ministry dedicated to providing fresh produce to food-insecure families in the region.
Their team coordinated with nationwide nonprofit Convoy of Hope to provide and transport food to those impacted by Ida, which has left lasting damage from Louisiana as far north as New York when it swept the coast earlier this month.
“As the largest provider of fresh produce to the Maryland Food Bank and others in neighboring states, First Fruits Farm has a wide network of distribution partners and the capacity to respond to hunger needs for disaster relief,” said Jamison Hunsberger, farm manager at First Fruits Farm. “The 2021 season has produced abundant crops, including delicious Maryland sweet corn that will be sent in truckloads to those affected by Hurricane Ida. We are thankful for the efforts of so many people who give their time, effort and support to this cause.”
When Tom Albright of Albright Farms in Baltimore County heard what First Fruits Farm was planning, he said he felt called to help.
“Hurricane Ida has had a devastating impact on many communities and families,” Albright said. “To know that we can play a role in organizing fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products at a time they are needed most is both humbling and deeply gratifying.”
Jessica Armacost, Albright’s business operations manager and Amy Cawley, Maryland Food Bank’s Farm to Food Bank Program director, also were both involved in organizing the donations and transportation of the products to First Fruits Farm.
Along with First Fruits Farm and Albright Farms, other farms that donated included Hills Forest Fruit Farm, Maple Border Farm, Pahl’s Farm, Richardson Farms, Baltimore Co.; Roseda Farms, Stoecker Farms Produce, Weber’s Cider Mill Farm, Clear Meadow Farm and Corner Mill Farm from Baltimore County; Benual King and Flinchbaugh Orchard from York County, Pa.; Bartenfelder Farms, Brisk Wind Farms and Clayton Farms from Caroline County; Daily Crisis Farm and Pond View Farm from Harford County; D.C. Central Kitchen from Washington, D.C.; Jake Lovett and Tom Humphries from Dorchester County;Mason Farms Produce from Queen Anne’s County; Miller Farms from Prince George’s County; Mountaire Farms Inc.; Rahll’s Produce from Anne Arundel County and Whispering Breeze Farm, Carroll County.
“The support we received from farmers has been incredible,” Albright said. “We are so grateful for the generosity of these Maryland and Pennsylvania farmers, and to Rahll’s Produce and for donating a truck and driver to help transport the products and EnvrioCool Service who provided an additional refrigerated truck when we filled the first three.”
In total, more than five trailer loads of farm-fresh chicken, beef, pork, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, apples, peaches, collard greens, potatoes, corn and tomatoes left Fruits Farm this week to be delivered to communities in Louisiana and Pennsylvania. Hunsberger said First Fruits Farms will be sending at least one additional delivery in the coming weeks.
First Fruits Farm served as the central gathering location for donations and their farm crew worked to receive the donations, package them and load them on to the Convoy of Hope trailers.
The first wave of deliveries includes 10 pallets of sweet corn, nine pallets of potatoes, five pallets of green beans, 17 pallets of dairy, eggs and meat and 26 pallets of assorted fruits and vegetables. Along with donating 40,000 pounds of chicken to Convoy of Hope, Mountaire Farms, Inc., is sending volunteers to impacted area cooking and serving meals to people dealing with extended power outages.
“We have operations in communities that could be impacted by these storms so for us, it’s personal,” said Catherine M. Bassett, the company’s director of communications and community relations. “We know we’d want people to help us out, so we’re happy to do our part to help others.”

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