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R.I. Food Bank Pays Homage to Smithfield’s Jaswell Farm

October 10, 2008

By Thomas J Morgan

The historic Jaswell Farm over the years has donated nearly 22 tons of fresh produce, mostly tomatoes, to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, for use by the needy.

SMITHFIELD — There’s an annual festival in Spain during which people pelt each other with grandiose quantities of ripe tomatoes, but that’s not how things work in Smithfield.

Instead, the historic Jaswell Farm over the years has donated nearly 22 tons of fresh produce, mostly tomatoes, to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, for use by the needy.

In response, the Food Bank this week presented a plaque of recognition to Allison and Chris Jaswell, the brother and sister team who are the fourth generation to operate the farm on Swan Road.

Michael Cerio, public relations manager for the food bank, said the farm has donated more than three tons of produce just this year to the nonprofit organization, which distributes food contributed by supermarkets, wholesalers, food processors, community food drives and farmers.

“We’re just glad to see it not go to waste,” Allison Jaswell said yesterday.

She said the farm has had much help in the program from Paul Santucci, a Smithfield resident who has been involved with the community farm run by St. Philip Church in Greenville.

“He has been a huge facilitator,” Jaswell said. She said the food bank used to have a truck that would haul produce from the Jaswell Farm, but the food bank lost its funding for the truck. In stepped Santucci, she said, with his own vehicle.

“The biggest problem we run into is we have extra food,” she said, “and we try to participate with some of the local pantries and welfare offices. They often want nonperishables. Our biggest problem is transportation. It’s hard to get it to the centers. Primarily, we give them tomatoes and other summer fresh fruit and vegetables.”

It’s a little easier in the fall, Jaswell said. “When we’ve got pumpkins, or fall squashes, things that are a little hardier, we will donate those as well.”

It all falls in a family tradition of trying to avoid waste, she said.

“We try not to throw stuff away,” she said. “We have the bakery, the cider mill and the fruit stand.” She said that produce that can’t be disposed of otherwise goes to another farm, where it is fed to animals. “But we want to feed people first,” she said.

“It’s an odd thing,” Jaswell said. “My brother yesterday said we never had to worry about where our next meal is going to come from. Our grandfather was around during the Depression — he never had to worry about where his next meal was coming from because he could grow it. It’s one of those ironies. It is unfathomable to us that there are people out there who need this, and when our country is going through this. We’re just glad to help them out.”

Smithfield tmorgan@projo.com / (401) 277-7488

Originally published by Thomas J Morgan, Journal Staff Writer.

(c) 2008 Providence Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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