At a time when processed and genetically modified foods are plentiful, one group of area residents is working to once again bring simplicity to the food we eat.
Earth to Table, a Dutchess County nonprofit, has become a local cornerstone to the wholesome eating lifestyle—while doing it for a good cause. Leader Joe Baldwin and many volunteers work to donate fresh, organic vegetables to area food pantries and teach those in need about wellness and using food as one’s medicine.
“We help people see the connection between the earth and the table,” Baldwin said. “Many people we donate to don’t have cooking facilities, so we’ll grow radishes, lettuce, kale or collards. Things anyone can eat raw. You don’t need to have a kitchen to be well—you just need foods that serve as medicine to the body.”
Any given morning, Baldwin is out by 6am picking vegetables; he spends the rest of his day transporting the produce from Pleasant Valley to Red Hook and everywhere in between.
At both his Pleasant Valley home and the nearby Hyde Park Community Garden, Baldwin grows fresh produce to share the power of a bountiful harvest with those who need it most.
In Dutchess County and beyond, many people cannot afford to buy plants, vegetables or herbs needed to eat healthy. Simply providing them, Baldwin said, helps support a healthy way of life and sustains the wonderful community that follows.
“We have people return weekly saying they’re losing weight and feeling better,” Baldwin said. “They ask all types of questions and just love everything we can help them with.”
At the Pleasant Valley Food Pantry, as well as at various health fairs and markets, Baldwin gives demonstrations on topics like how to build a great salad, dehydrate foods, and pick your own greens. A current special harvest are mustard greens, which can be grown all year. These viable, healthy leaves are high in antioxidants, help decrease levels of cholesterol, and are thought to prevent various cancers.
The Hyde Park Community Garden, where Baldwin and many others volunteer, used to be a baseball field. Six years later, it is used to grow vegetables for donation to area food pantries and Meals on Wheels, an agency that home-delivers meals to its participants throughout Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park.
The garden also fosters community. A plot in the garden can be leased out to those who don’t have space for a garden in their own yard, allowing them to work alongside experienced gardeners to learn new skills.
Besides donating farm fresh food to pantries, Baldwin is a regular at area farm markets and wellness fairs to further spread his mantra of good health coming from the food we eat.
Earth To Table will be at the Hyde Park Farmers Market on Route 9 across from the Hyde Park Town Hall on June 25 from 10am to 4pm. All are welcome to attend—try some farm fresh produce and learn how local, wholesome fare can benefit health. For more information, contact Joe Baldwin at 845-635-9388.
Pleasant Valley Pantry, located at 92 Martin Road in Pleasant Valley, is open year-round on Wednesdays from 7 to 8pm. A short registration process and valid ID are required—no one is turned away.