On a beautiful spring afternoon, there truly isn’t a better place to be than the Freestore Foodbank’s sprawling 10-acre farm in Melbourne, Kentucky. Draped luxuriously across the southern bank of the Ohio River, the Giving Fields is a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. The farm is now open for the season and plans are underway for a busy and productive season. The farm, managed by two talented Freestore Foodbank employees, is run mostly by volunteers. “Working with volunteers is truly a pleasure,” says Keith Caldwell, who manages the farm. He recounts the story of a group of 21 third-graders clad in colorful rain jackets and boots who showed up on a rainy day with teachers and parents and spent two hours helping to clear raised beds and put down fresh compost. “I cannot think of a better way to teach children about healthy eating or farming,” Keith observes. Alison Ulanski is dedicated to managing the volunteers who come to the farm and she finds it infinitely rewarding. “I love being able to work with people all day long and I take great pride in putting structured activities together so that our volunteers are fully engaged and having fun,” Ali says,
The next few weeks at the farm are going to be focused on planting. Irrigation just got turned on and approximately 1,000 plants have been planted already – cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and broccoli. In addition, there are a hundred potato plants in the ground this year for the very first time! “We did a survey of our pantries this past year, and potatoes turned out to be the most sought-after vegetable,” Keith says. They have also planned some pollinator gardens to help the bees. The orchard is getting pruned with wonderful help from Extension Offices in Campbell, Kenton and Boone county. And so are the blueberry brambles. The farm also has a greenhouse .
Harvesting will start in June. The farm will continue a cycle of planting and harvesting into the fall. The summer months are the busiest and there are plans in place to plant corn and pumpkins this year. “The pumpkins are mostly for the kids and we thought it would be fun for them to be able to pick pumpkins,” says Keith. In the fall there will be fall crops like squash and yam and sweet potato. The Freestore Foodbank is excited to start a brand new season and we are looking for help and engagement from the community. To volunteer go to https://freestorefoodbank.org/volunteer-opportunities/