Each year, McCoy Community Farm in Warren produces thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables that are distributed to Rhode Islanders in need of food assistance.
The farm is run entirely by a group of dedicated volunteers on land donated by its owners, doctors Charlie McCoy and Lory Snady-McCoy.
As a respected doctor, Charlie knows a lot about what it takes to keep people healthy: “Fresh, nutritious produce is so critical to a good diet. And we wanted to do what we could to help more people have access to foods they could enjoy.”
The idea first sprang to life when Charlie struck a deal with Chris Clegg of Four Town Farm in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Chris needed additional land and Charlie gave it to him under one condition – dedicate one acre to harvesting fresh produce for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and its member agencies.
It was a win-win, except for one problem: who was going to do all of the work? Charlie is a full time doctor and Chris has his own busy farm to run. That’s where Diane Stacy comes in. Already a volunteer with the Food Bank, she jumped at the opportunity to manage the farm.
Now, with four years under their belt, the farm runs like a well-oiled machine. In the early Spring, the group discusses what to plant for the season, considering what will be best received by clients.
Peppers and tomatoes are popular. Kale is tough because it doesn’t keep long. Broccoli doesn’t grow well in their soil. But butternut squash, eggplant and zucchini are great.
As Chris explains, “We plant things that will continue to grow all season long. Multiple harvest crops work best so the farm can rely on the produce.”
Volunteers weed the land and harvest the crops. Diane coordinates all of that but says, “Chris does all the hard work. The volunteers do the fun stuff.”
Diane recruits volunteers from all walks of life: retirees, busy professionals, and kids.
Charlie is quick to point out and Chris agrees, “It is Diane and her husband Doug who make it all happen.”
Charlie is proud of what they have been able to create together, “I feel fantastic. We’re helping people who can use the food. I love to come out here. It’s so beautiful. The volunteers I meet are great.”
And they can all feel great satisfaction knowing that their community farm makes a difference in the lives of so many Rhode Islanders in need.
Click here for more information about community farms.