By Karen Xu
Over the weekend, volunteers arrived at the JK Community Farm in Purcellville for the annual Plant-a-thon, an event where volunteers plant thousands of seedlings at the beginning of the growing season in support of the farm’s mission to donate fresh food to area food pantries. This year, volunteers gathered over the course of two days to plant 16,000 seedlings, which will yield 53,000 pounds of food.
“The need of the food pantries that we serve has increased greatly because of the pandemic,” said Samantha Kuhn, executive director of the farm. “A lot of our food pantry partners are serving four times the amount of people that they were serving prior, so that has changed the way that we grow because we grow a lot more to make sure that we can keep up with their needs.”
In previous years, volunteers were primarily from corporate groups, but amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the farm has been supported mainly by families. During this year’s Plant-a-thon, groups were limited to 30 people and volunteers signed up in shifts.
“We […] just like being a part of the community, you know, all ages and levels, it doesn’t matter. You know how fit you are, and just anybody can contribute at this level to come out and help the program,” said Suzanne Serway, a volunteer at this year’s event.
The farm was founded in 2018 to combat food insecurity. In 2020, the farm expanded its produce growth and received 30 donated cattle, resulting in over 147,000 pounds of food for their food pantry partners. In the 2021 growing season, JK Community Farm plans to double their produce production and donate 230,000 pounds to area food pantries as well as increase their herd to 45 cattle, bring 25 chickens to the farm, and expand distribution into Washington, DC.
Kuhn is optimistic about the future of the farm.
“I’m most excited to see the farm grow and the community of supporters that we have to help us expand and help our local food pantries have healthy foods.”
To support the farm, visit jkcommunityfarm.org/get-involved for various ways to get involved.
Karen Xu is a senior at Freedom High School completing her senior capstone project at Loudoun Now.