Lehigh Valley

Veggie Van a success in Easton; volunteers look forward to summer

Veggie Van a success; volunteers look forward to summer

EASTON, Pa. - On Earth Day in Easton, Lafayette College students used their green thumbs to help feed residents who don't have access to fresh produce.

Volunteers are getting ready for the return of the "Veggie Van."

While it may be too early to plant some vegetable, some people are already preparing for the Veggie Van in the west ward of Easton.

"We call it a Veggie Van," said Lawrence Malinconico, director of the Lafayette College technology clinic. "We actually just bring the vegetables to a farm stand-type model in the west ward one day a week and distribute vegetables."

The Lafayette College technology clinic developed the program. The goal is to show how urban area farms can help feed people in a place known as a food desert, meaning there is no supermarket within two miles of the middle of the neighborhood.

"You can't just go out and buy fresh vegetables so easily," said Sophia Feller, urban agricultural coordinator at the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership.

Six students from Lafayette College and dozens of volunteers grew more than 1,300 pounds of vegetables and handed them out last summer.

"Everybody loved it," said Feller. "We had really good response. We did not have enough vegetables."

"By the end of the summer, everyone coming out," added Drew Williams, one of the student volunteers. "They were telling their friends about it. We had, I think, upwards of 50 families coming out each Monday evening."

The Veggie Van program has been so successful it received funding to continue for another three years. At the end of those three years, the goal is to turn that program over to the community.

"That's one of the things we hope to do is allow for sustainability by having people not just receive vegetables but learn how to grow it themselves," said Malinconico.

The hope is to expand some of the gardens, replace the fence and upgrade the water system.

A move to grow more produce this summer and help people realize you shouldn't only appreciate Mother Earth for one day in April.

"Remember everything we get comes from the Earth," said Williams. "We can not neglect that."

You should give thanks all year long.

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