By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN - In a combined effort to stop hunger across the state, Dassel Hillside Farm is donating a large number of surplus apples this fall to Second Harvest Heartland food bank.
Dassel Hillside owners Karl and Julie Townsend have partnered with Second Harvest for the second year in a row. Last year, Hillside was part of a pilot program and collected 30,000 pounds of apples.
“We hope to match that this year,” said Karl Townsend.
In the past, food shelves mainly supplied canned goods and other non-perishable items.
Now, most food shelves have opened it up to produce of all types, according to Jerry Hedum, food source representative for Second Harvest. Hedum’s job is to find willing, large-scale donors that can keep up with the demand of food shelves.
According to Hedum, food shelf usage has gone up 35 percent from last year due to the economic downturn and the increased unemployment rate.
“Feeding the world is one of my charities,” Karl said.
The Townsends have always donated to local food shelves, but now, through Second Harvest and partnerships with other apple orchards, it has become a state-wide effort. Townsend commended Hedum’s efforts for that.
“Our mission is to end hunger through community partnership,” Hedum said.
Last year, 200,000 pounds of apples were picked among the three orchards in the pilot program Plum Crazy in Buffalo, Apple Jack in Delano, and Dassel Hillside Farm.
This year, the program has expanded to 14 other apple orchards in hopes of reaching its goal of collecting 500,000 pounds of apples, according to Hedum.
“Karl and Julie have been instrumental for us to spread the word to other orchards and help the program grow,” Hedum said.
This fall, there will be four weekends when volunteers will come out to Hillside to pick apples for the food bank. Last weekend, students from Roseville High School picked apples at the local orchard.
There is something about being out in the orchard picking apples for a good cause, Hedum said.
“It makes you feel really good inside. We all want to feel good these days,” he added.