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Patroon Farm raises barn

Since then, the Patroon Farm has shipped 225,000 pounds of food to the food bank's member agencies. It's run entirely by volunteer labor, as well.

"The obvious benefit of the farm is that it provides fresh produce," Quandt said. "It's the kind of food that a lot of the people we serve never get."

"The farm has brought us new supporters, has introduced us to new people, and when they get to know about the farm they get to know about the food bank," he continued.

The eventual goal is to get to the point the farm will not have to rely on the food bank for support. To that end, it runs a community supported agriculture program, where for an up-front price investors can buy a share of the farm's produce and receive a bag of freshly harvested food all season long.

"That's helping the food bank to have that farm be self sustaining on its own financially," Comstock said.

But the ultimate purpose of the farm is to provide fresh produce to the hungry. Oftentimes, pantries don't stock or don't receive produce due to its high cost and limited shelf life. Sending the produce straight from the farm to the food banks helps those in need enjoy the benefits of fresh food.

That's an important contribution in a time when the bank's food pantries and soup kitchens are seeing an increase in demand of 20 to 30 percent in the past year alone.

"The need is still great," Quandt said. "There's been an increase in the need and the demand for help."

Last year, the bank's distribution went up 15 percent to 22.4 million pounds, and this year is on pace to be even bigger, he continued.

The barn should also help the farm provide agriculture educational opportunities, such as hosting field trips from area schools, and house equipment during the winter.

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