Lend me your ‘ears’
Published 10:55 am Monday, August 8, 2016
CREEKSVILLE – Residents of northeastern North Carolina who may be a bit down on their luck were the beneficiaries of the generosity of a Northampton County farm family last week.
Exactly one week ago, a small army of volunteers gathered at Lassiter Farms, located in the Creeksville community, where they donated their time and effort to harvest three acres of sweet corn. In less than three hours, those husk covered ears – 24,249 pounds to be exact – were hand-picked, placed in reinforced cardboard container boxes, and loaded onto a fleet of trucks destined for Elizabeth City and the Food Bank of the Albemarle.
The Food Bank, which serves 15 counties in the northeastern part of the state, bagged the harvested corn for distribution to families facing food insecurity within its service area.
“You know it really makes sense for farmers like myself to take on a project such as this as we make it our job, year in and year out, to help feed the world,” said Donny Lassiter whose family has farmed the fertile soil of Northampton County over a span of several generations.
“We, as a family, are very humbled to take part in this localized effort to help feed those in need,” Lassiter added. “We’re very grateful and thankful for those in the Creeksville community who came out on a hot and humid morning and joined my family in this corn harvest. Speaking for everyone involved, we’re happy we were able to give something back to our county and the northeastern part of our state.”
Liz Reasoner, Executive Director of the Food Bank of the Albemarle, expressed gratitude for the Lassiter family’s donation and to the volunteers assisting in the corn harvest.
“The food bank receives and relies on many donations such as the three acres Mr. Lassiter has given. His kindness and dedication to hunger relief is greatly appreciated, as well as the hard work of the volunteers who were essential in harvesting this corn,” Reasoner said. “It is my hope that other produce growers in the 15-county region served by the Food Bank of the Albemarle will see what a fantastic impact this has on the fight against hunger.”
Lassiter said the idea about dedicating a portion of the family farm to grow and donate the sweet corn came byway of an article he was shown in an agriculture magazine.
“The story was about a farmer in Indiana undertaking a similar project and we decided to do the same thing,” Lassiter noted. “We first reached out to the Food Bank of the Albemarle to ensure they would accept this corn as a donation. They loved the idea and provided the cardboard containers for us to load with the corn and they sent their trucks here last Saturday (July 30) to transport the corn to Elizabeth City.”
After receiving the “thumbs-up” from the food bank, Lassiter went to work securing donations for the local project, gaining commitments from Monsanto for the corn seed, Bayer Crop Science for the spray chemicals, and Adam Lassiter with Crop Production Services in Conway for other donated products that assist in raising sweet corn.
“This particular brand of sweet corn – known as “Obsession” – was developed for Monsanto by North Carolina State University. This brand contains a sugar gene that makes it sweeter than other types of sweet corn,” Lassiter remarked.
The three acres of sweet corn were planted on Memorial Day. The only major project left to tackle from that point forward was lining-up volunteers to assist with the harvest.
“We had about 50 local folks, including those from Creeksville Baptist Church, to come out and help us pick all this corn,” Lassiter said. “Young and old, they turned out, and from what I saw and heard they all seemed to enjoy the task because, like me, they knew it was all for a worthy cause to help those less fortunate.”
Lassiter also thanked the Food Bank of the Albemarle for their volunteer spirit.
“They are to be commended for the hard work they put in to ensure that those in need here in our area of the state do not go hungry; they’re a great volunteer organization,” Lassiter stressed.
After witnessing that volunteer spirit first-hand on July 30, Lassiter’s mind was already thinking ahead to next year and beyond.
“From the positive response we received from the food bank and from the volunteers that helped us, we’re seriously considering making this an annual event here at Lassiter Farms. And we also hope that what we did will in some way inspire other farmers in our county and region to take up the cause to help out the Food Bank of the Albemarle in any way they can.” Lassiter concluded.
Those wishing to find out how they can help feed the hungry in northeastern North Carolina are encouraged to call the Food Bank of the Albemarle at (252) 335-4035 or visit www.afoodbank.org.
That organization serves as a regional clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of food and grocery items to 134 non-profit and faith-based organizations for their food programs, and to eligible individuals for their food needs.