Forced to cut back on programming due to COVID-19, Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell Township was able to shift more of its focus this spring and summer to the labor-intensive planting, weeding and harvesting involved in producing crops to help local food banks and pantries.
The harvest is ongoing, but through the end of August its yield included 1,900 pounds of potatoes; 1,200 pounds of tomatoes; hundreds of pounds each of cabbage, collards, cucumbers, peppers and snap beans; several thousand pounds each of whole wheat flour, cornmeal and oatmeal that is distributed in 1.5- and 2-pound bags; and 650 dozen eggs, according to information provided by Mercer County.
An estimated 12,000 people have received a food bank or pantry distribution containing a Howell Farm item, according to the statement.
“Howell Farm has always helped feed Mercer County residents in need through local food banks and pantries, but the pandemic has made that role even more vital,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes said in the statement. “I applaud the farm’s staff and volunteers for the yeoman’s work they’ve done and continue to do to support our community.”
Through its Share the Harvest tours, Howell Farm is giving visitors an opportunity to learn about the areas on the farm where wheat, vegetables, eggs and other products are being produced for distribution to food banks and pantries. Tours are offered through Sept. 10 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 90-minute intervals between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and from Sept. 15 through Nov. 25 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 90-minute intervals between 1 and 4 p.m.
Use of a face mask is required.
The program includes a self-guided tour with crop-themed crossword puzzle, an Instagram photo contest and a match game that challenges youngsters to identify vegetables grown in the farm’s market garden.
Those interested must pre-register through Community Pass in order to reserve a free ticket.
Howell Farm is owned by Mercer County and operated by the Mercer County Park Commission. For more information about the farm or other park commission facilities, visit www.mercercountyparks.org or call the farm office at 609-737-3299.