Colorado Farm to Table
At a young age I memorized an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote as a reminder of the purpose we find in our day-to-day lives: “It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.”
For one local farmer, that sunny smile was his passion for agriculture and his desire for helping others. The resulting fruit of his labor is a nonprofit organization that distributes 100 percent of its fresh produce to people in need all over Colorado.
Tony Madone Jr. first manifested his dream of growing produce to feed the hungry in 1996 on 2 acres of borrowed land with no reimbursement for the production cost. Now, with over 165 volunteers donating more than 3,000 hours of their time each year, his dream has evolved into 12.5 acres of farmed land in Salida yielding 315,087 pounds of fresh produce a year with an operating budget of more than $230,000.
By realizing his dream, Madone and Colorado Farm to Table now serve people and nonprofit organizations statewide, providing fresh, healthy produce to people in need. And while Farm to Table employs just two full-time farmers, including Tony, and one part-time office manager, the organization continues to grow.
Farm to Table’s volunteer board of directors does important work ensuring the organization’s success, including Executive Director Lisa Siegfried, who works with foundations, writes grant proposals and coordinates the organization’s operations. She said one in six children in Colorado don’t know when they will have their next meal, one in nine state residents live in poverty and one in 10 Coloradans struggle with hunger despite significant economic growth in recent years.
Farm to Table has held its own as the only nonprofit in the region that grows, harvests and donates all of the freshly harvested produce at no cost to food banks, soup kitchens and pantries around the state.
“There is more and more demand for fresh local produce, particularly as we face drought. Colorado Farm to Table has such an important and valuable role in alleviating hunger. Anyone who wishes to volunteer at the farm is welcome.” They are not only helping others; they can also take produce home for themselves and their families, said Siegfried.
The farm is a year-round venture with seedlings planted in the greenhouse in early spring. All the repair and maintenance of the tractors and 42 farm implements is done in the off-season, but it doesn’t stop there. Volunteers do everything from working as farmhands to organizing community events, beekeeping, marketing, coordinating distribution and fundraising.
Donations come from everywhere in the state ‒ churches, foundation grants and emergency shelter funding. Siegfried explained that, if funding increases, Farm to Table hopes to expand its cultivating acreage and eventually build a packing and shipping facility, and there is already a need to hire more farmers.
“We provide numerous ways to participate in facets of our program, affording anyone an opportunity to volunteer,” Siegfried said. “Our volunteers work together in our fields, in our office and in our communities representing us in our mission.
To volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more on the Colorado Farm to Table Facebook page.
To donate, visit Colorado FarmToTable.org or send checks to P.O. Box 826, Salida, CO 81201.