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October 19, 2015

The Peoples' Produce Project Harvests Success

MEXICO- The Oswego County Department of Social Services (DSS) launched a new initiative, The Peoples' Produce Project,this past summer to aid local residents. Four raised garden beds containing over a dozen vegetables and herbs were constructed and installed at the DSS building on Spring Street in Mexico. The garden's harvest so far this season has yielded more than 200 servings of vegetables.

"I am very proud of the efforts of the DSS staff to make this community project such a success," said Oswego County Department of Social Services Commissioner Gregg Heffner. "One of the goals of the project was to supplement clients' food boxes and we are pleased to report that approximately 100 families have utilized the garden and benefitted from its harvest."

Elaine Samson and her team of volunteers led this creative project. It was funded by resources that they obtained and work that was done on their own time. "These gardens providedfor peoplethroughout the summer and continues tosupport families in the community into the fall season," said Samson, a community service worker at DSS and the project's coordinator. "They were given a variety of vegetables and suggestions for their uses and all have been very appreciative of the bounty." She added, "This project has been made possible through the generous contributions and hard work of many individuals and businesses. Our volunteers continue to help with the harvesting and upkeep of the beds and the community has also been quite supportive."

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County helped with the design and placement of the beds and provided guidance on their content. Bob Ireland, a caseworker at DSS, built a farm market stand and provided small bags for the families to carry their bounty. Other supporters include Caster's Sawmill in Sandy Creek; Sturtz Excavating in Mexico; Leon's Farm Market in Mexico; Ontario Orchards in Oswego; Oliver Paine Greenhouses in Fulton and the New York State Division of Veteran's Affairs Office in Oswego. John and Brennan Samson, Jennifer O'Connor, Adriana Ketchum, Marcia Birdsell and Jan Smith were all instrumental, along with the 30-plus people that donated to the start-up costs of the project.

The Peoples' Produce Project is winding down for the year, but will resume early in the spring with additional garden beds and plantings as funds allow. Sampson said, "We would like to build four more beds and plant a bigger variety of vegetables. Our goal next is to plant cold weather plants such as beans, peas, asparagus and other staples to ensure a continuous harvest."

For more information about the project, or to make a contribution or volunteer, please call 963-5463.

DISTRIBUTING THE HARVEST - Bob Ireland, a caseworker at Oswego County Department of Social Services, built a farm market display for the harvested produce and provided small bags for families to carry their bounty home. Photo by Elaine Samson.

THE PEOPLES' PROJECT COMES TO FRUITION - The Peoples' Produce Project grew from the seed of an idea by Elaine Samson, community service worker at the Oswego County Department of Social Services, to a hearty reaping of tomatoes and herbs pictured here. Photo by Elaine Samson.

HARVESTING THE PEOPLES' PROJECT - The Peoples' Produce Project provided an abundant harvest, including the tomatoes and herbs pictured here, for approximately 100 families in Oswego County this season. Photo by Elaine Samson.

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