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Millis/Medway - Local Town Pages

Exelon Donates $16K to Expand Medway Community Farm Program

Jul 30, 2020 09:52AM ● By J.D. O’Gara

Exelon Generation has supported several Medway organizations that enhance the community over the past five years and seeks to do even more this year with a couple of large donations, to make a real difference. The creative thinking and collaborative effort of Glenn Trindade, Medway Board of Selectmen Chair, Carol Collord, President of the Board of Directors, Medway Community Farm, and Mark Rodgers, Exelon Generation brought about a unique way to support the community. 

The idea was to greatly expand on last year’s smaller pilot program which nourished struggling families in Medway with fresh, organic produce from the Medway Community Farm. This year, Exelon Generation is generously donating $16,000 to fund an expanded program which includes partnering with the Medway Food Pantries and the Medway House Family Shelter.

“This was a great opportunity for us to enable Medway Community Farm to provide fresh, locally-grown, produce to the food pantries and family shelter in Medway. Though we made these plans prior to COVID-19, the nutritional support these direct-service organizations in Medway provide to families and individuals in-need has become more important than ever,” said Archie Gleason, General Manager, Northeast Region, Exelon Generation.

Susan Dietrich, Director of the Medway Village Church Food Pantry organized discussions with Paul Galante, Director of the Medway Food Pantry at Mahan Circle, Heidi Sia, Director of the Medway House Family Shelter, and Ms. Collord to discuss the community’s needs. Through many thoughtful discussions, it was determined that a “keep it simple” approach would be best to maximize the food assistance, especially since many of the families included younger children who are choosy eaters.

Typically, a Community Supported Agriculture share (CSA) includes items such as mint, arugula, mustard and collard greens, etc. These items were determined to not necessarily be practical for the families of the food pantries and shelter. This year, the share has been tailored to meet the “basic” needs of the families and include many types of greens such as tender lettuce, scallions, and beet greens.

“Last year, many of the families didn’t know what to do with the vegetables they received in their share. This year, everyone who visits the food pantry is very happy to be receiving family-friendly produce such as greens and scallions. We are all very pleased with the program. Our deliveries have been neat, clean and well presented,” said Paul Galante, Director of the Medway Food Pantry at Mahan Circle.

In order to accommodate the new plan of growing more family-friendly produce, the Community Farm had to make a few quick adjustments with their crop plans. Farm Manager, Seth Terramane modified their crop plan by creating a dedicated space to grow lots and lots of greens.

Every Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m., Farm Manager, Seth Terramane delivers beautiful, freshly picked produce to the Medway Village Food Pantry and the Medway House Shelter, and each Thursday, a community volunteer makes a special trip to the Mahan Circle Food Pantry. 

“Because of the generosity of partners like Exelon Generation, the Medway Community Farm is able to realize its mission of fostering community spirit while helping to meet the needs of hundreds of families in our town and the surrounding communities. We’re humbled and proud to be part of the solution when so many people are in need,” said Carol Collord, President, Medway Community Farm Board of Directors.

Ms. Dietrich, Ms. Sia and Mr. Galante all agree that their respective organization’s needs have significantly increased during these un-precedented times. In the wake of the current pandemic, the food pantries have seen an increased number of visitors. In April and May of 2020, The Village Church Food Pantry served 1,260 clients from 393 households, which represents a 50% increase over the same time period last year.

“In early 2019, the Medway Village Church Food Pantry was designated as a healthy pantry partner by the Greater Boston Food Bank. As a healthy pantry, we strive to offer the most nutritious food possible and to incorporate fresh items wherever we can. The collaboration and support from Exelon Generation and the Medway Community Farm aligns perfectly with our mission to provide healthy choices to our clients, and we are incredibly grateful,” said Susan Dietrich, Director of the Medway Village Church Food Pantry.

The Mahan Circle Food Pantry has also seen an increase of over 700 clients more than last year at this time. In March thru June of 2019, the pantry served 1,386 clients compared to 2,988 clients in 2020, an increase of 1,602 clients.  

Currently, the Medway House Shelter is housing five families and working with an additional 4 families that are living off-site. The needs of the shelter have remained consistent during the pandemic.

Most of these struggling families would never get the opportunity to experience visiting a farm stand or to consume fresh produce. It is unusual for the families that stay at the family shelter to experience anything other than going to a grocery store to purchase food. The opportunity that Exelon has provided community members has allowed those in need to broaden their horizons.

“The families that live at the Medway House Shelter are very encouraged and touched when someone or a local business does something to take care of them. Family members often comment on how generous the community is,” said Heidi Sia, Director of the Medway House Family Shelter

Experiences such as being able to visit the Medway farmers’ market or to work with the local farm to learn about their growing seasons is immeasurable. Once COVID restrictions are softened, it is the plan of the staff at the Medway shelter to take families to the farm to experience it first-hand.

“It’s a Win-Win for the community,” said Trindade. “Exelon’s donation is a huge benefit to the Medway Community Farm’s operations, and it’s a huge benefit to the Medway Village Church Food Pantry, the Food Pantry at Mahan Circle and the Medway House Shelter. We appreciate Exelon stepping up and doing this.”