The Food Bank of Delaware farm has been in operation for more than three years and we are finally enjoying the fruits of our hard labor.
Farm Manager Kyle Brolis and Community Farm Program Coordinator John O’Connor are out on the farm every day planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and much more. Their work would not be possible without a group of committed volunteers. One of those volunteers is Jeff Kline.
“Jeff brings a much appreciated set of skilled hands to our farm program,” said Brolis. “Since he has years of experience in the construction industry, we’ve asked him to take the lead on multiple infrastructure projects around the farm. It’s great to have him around to bounce ideas off of. He is quick to offer to reach out to his network of friends, colleagues, and industry professionals to help us solve problems. Perhaps most importantly, he reminds us to work smarter not harder!”
Jeff and his partner, Kathy, have been volunteering on the Food Bank Farm for about six months now.
His first interaction with the Food Bank of Delaware was through a food mobile pantry held in partnership with Habitat for Humanity on Wilmington’s Eastside. Jeff has served on the Board of Directors of Habitat for more than 20 years.
“We had such a moving experience,” he points out.
He wanted to get more involved. He assisted with several of the Food Bank’s mass distributions held throughout the pandemic and thought the on-site farm volunteer opportunity would be a good fit.
Jeff lives on a farm and likes the outdoors. He keeps honey bees and a big garden at home.
Unlike many volunteers, Jeff knows what the farm and Food Bank warehouse looked like prior to the start of construction in 2018. His carpentry business did all of the fit outs inside the facility, and he remembers the farm being an empty lot filled with trees, shrubs, debris and trash.
“I have seen a lot of good stuff coming on since we have started volunteering,” he says. “Now this spring things are really cooking.”
Jeff and the volunteers have been busy this spring getting ready for the summer growing season. Produce grown on the farm is used for a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) distribution, produce stand sales and for distribution to neighbors in need through the on-site Healthy Pantry Center.
“This is good work what you are doing down here,” he says. “It’s easy to get motivated to come down a couple days as week.”
In addition to volunteering on the farm, Jeff also teaches swimming classes and is working on a 15-month Master Beekeeper Certification from Cornell University. To say he stays busy is an understatement!
Jeff encourages others to get involved on the Food Bank farm. “Just give it a shot,” he advises. “It’s all laid out very neatly for you. You can get your hands dirty and be out in the fresh air, watch things grow and see the fruits of your labor. It’s just a great experience. ”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities on the Food Bank Farm, please click here.