Pictured from left: Dave Wattenbarger, Brett Peshek, Jimmy Emmons, OK Rep. Mike Sanders, US Rep. Frank Lucas, Gary O’Neill, and Trey Lam.
Jimmy and Ginger Emmons of Leedey are leading the way in a pilot program to increase soil health and feed the hungry. The project is made possible through a partnership among USDA-NRCS, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Green Cover Seed and four Oklahoma farmers including the Emmons.
On Friday, August 25th, US Representative, Frank Lucas, Oklahoma House District 59 Representative, Mike Sanders, the executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Trey Lam, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service conservationist, Gary O’Neill, and the manager of regional giving for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Dave Wattenbarger all gathered in Leedey to celebrate the success of the program.
Jimmy Emmons, also the president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, explained how cover crops, a crop planted in between traditional cash crops, have gained popularity to increase soil health on the farm. Emmons and Lam, had an idea to take the practice a step further by adding edible species to the variety of seeds planted in a cover crop. And now, a few short months later, Food Banks are benefitting from the harvest of the edible cover crops.
Brett Peshek of Green Cover Seed discussed how seed is selected to meet soil health needs for each farm. On the Emmons Farm, edible varieties in the mix included okra, beans, cucumbers, peas, pumpkins, squash, and others totaling near twenty edible vegetables all together.
To date, volunteers have harvested and distributed 2,570 pounds of produce to Food Bank partners. Some of the harvest has been donated to the Panhandle Nutrition Service in Vici.
The partnership appears to be a win/win. Cover crops are increasing soil health on farms. Edible cover crops are helping feed those in need. Look for this program to gain nationwide attention, with Oklahoma and Emmons Farms leading the way.
Any individual, school, church or civic group can get involved in this program by helping with the harvest of cover crops. For volunteer information contact Dave Wattenbarger of the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank at (405)808-9611 firstname.lastname@example.org or contact coordinator Kate Kraner at (580)339-6882 or email@example.com.
Video upload of Farm to Food Bank Pilot Project coming soon at vicivisiontv.com