New Life Ministries Assistant Pastor Deloyde Sanders called the Beloit Total Harvest the answer to a prayer. He said he couldn’t believe his ears when Beloit College students and farmers Denny and Susan Wright volunteered to bring a mini farm market to the corner of Porter and Henry avenues, after Sunday services.
On the last Sunday of the past four months, the Wrights and the students have gathered leftovers from the Beloit Farmer’s Market held Saturdays in downtown Beloit, as well as donated produce from the Wright farm.
Customers can name their own price, whatever they feel they can afford to give as a donation. Proceeds from the sale go back into the feeding program at New Life Ministries. Caritas has been acting as the fiscal agent for the group.
This past Sunday was the last Beloit Total Harvest of the season and those from New Life Ministry flocked to the market after Sunday services to find tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, radishes and even the more exotic kohlrabi, daikon, and one lone cucumber.
Beloit College students Rachel McCarty and Matt Walthius, along with Keston Geistwalker wanted to ensure that none of the food left at the end of a Saturday farmer’s market went to waste.
“We realized how much wasted harvest there was and how there wasn’t equal access to that harvest,” McCarty said.
“The food is being taken out of the waste stream, and we are providing nutritious food for affordable prices,” Geistwalker said.
The model they developed was to collect food donations at the end of the day at various farmers’ markets. They then store, prep and set-up a market stand on Sunday in the Merrill Neighborhood on a monthly basis. The students enlisted the help of the Wrights to also make donations and volunteer their time.
“It’s amazing how much the farmers have donate,” said Walthius.
Elder Robert Grimes and Deacon Michael Whitaker were buying up produce on Sunday and encouraged the congregation to take advantage of the market.
Sanders noted that not everyone has transportation or the means to attend the downtown Beloit Farmer’s Market. With some of the more unique produce items on hand, youngsters are able to learn from the students about them. McCarty, noted that the kohlrabi, for example, tastes like a cross between and apple and broccoli. It can be used in coleslaw or sliced and fried.
Farmer Denny Wright said he liked the market because it was an opportunity to get the community together.
“It’s about people spending time and having conversations,” Wright said.