Just a short drive outside of Cincinnati’s city limits, across the Ohio River, there is a unique spot where nature has carved out a way to meet the needs of our community.  The Freestore Foodbank’s Giving Fields, located in Melbourne, Kentucky, is a 10-acre farm dedicated to growing fresh produce for local families throughout northern Kentucky.  Now entering its eighth season, the farm has grown over the years from providing basic items such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers to including an orchard, berry brambles, bee hives, and much more.

Each season, items grown at the Giving Fields are delivered to the Freestore Foodbank’s  partnering agencies (such as food pantries, soup kitchens, etc.) who distribute them to our neighbors in Northern Kentucky at no cost.  Lately, this has translated to more than 65,000 pounds of fresh produce (more than 117,000 meals) for folks who may have otherwise had to go without.

There is a lot of work that goes into this farm-to-table effort and almost all of it is handled by a small army of over 2,000 volunteers, aged anywhere between five and ninety-five, who help throughout the growing season, putting in over 8,000 hours and doing everything from planting to harvesting.

Chrissy Helton is one such volunteer.  Co-President of the Tri-State Freethinkers, she along with other Freethinkers have committed themselves to volunteering once a month at the Giving Fields over the last few seasons, and they have grown to absolutely love it.  “It doesn’t cost us anything to help our community except just committing a little time,” she says, speaking to how easy it is to get involved.  In fact, Chrissy and her team of Freethinkers are looking forward to “getting their hands dirty again” when the 2018 season starts on March 20 .

For Chrissy, the Giving Fields has become more than just a place where she can volunteer with her peers; she’s also found over the years that it’s a great place to bring her family as well!  “It’s just so quiet and peaceful,” she says, describing the beautiful picturesque countryside that the Giving Fields calls home.  Coming out on multiple days throughout the month to volunteer, Chrissy says she enjoys seeing how kid-friendly the Giving Fields is and how it’s a great place for children to come and learn about things like fruits and veggies and gardening.  “Everything is hands-on and you can go at your own pace,” she remarks. “The only downside that I can see is that you’ll probably need a spare pair of shoes! Chances are you will certainly get a little muddy while down on the farm.”

The Giving Fields relies on volunteers for its day-to-day operations.  Whether you are an individual like Chrissy who is just looking to make a difference, a large or small civic or corporate group looking to get outside a bit and give back, or a family with kids you want to connect with nature while having fun and instilling lessons in generosity and service, there are plenty of ways that you can help at the Freestore Foodbank’s Giving Fields!

For more information about volunteering at the Giving Fields, or if you’re interested in donating towards this worthy cause, please email our Volunteer Services Department at volunteer@freestorefoodbank.org or call (513) 482-7550.