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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

CRCF grant helps harvest at food pantry gardens

OLEAN, N.Y., June 27, 2016 — What began at the Olean Food Pantry as 10 soil-filled kiddie pools and grew into a full-blown community gardening operation will be able to continue its progress with help from a $1,415 Community Fund grant.

Maureen Curry helped kick start Operation Super Harvest at the Olean Food Pantry eight years ago to both provide fresh vegetables to pantry recipients and demonstrate how to grow fresh vegetables in small gardens plots at low cost.

“People living at poverty level or below cannot afford fresh vegetables,” said Curry, a volunteer and retired pantry executive director. “The average monthly family income of families coming to our pantry is $1,333.”

Since the first harvest, the community garden beds at the pantry have blossomed. In 2016 volunteers harvested over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce for distribution to families in need, Curry said.

The grant from the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation’s Community Fund will support the growth of the community gardens, providing for purchase and delivery of organic soil and construction of six handicap-accessible raised beds for volunteer use.
Organic soil for the beds is an ongoing need and raised beds allow older and handicapped individuals to help with the gardening process, she said.

Curry added that garden involvement has helped introduce a healthier way of living for volunteers as well, herself included.

“Since being involved with the gardening, I have started to can items just like my mother did from her victory garden when we were growing up,” she said.
“More, when you are out there, and if you do not feel good, by the time you leave that is all gone,” she added. “There is nothing like putting your hands in the dirt.”

The opportunity to bring healthy food to pantry recipients and engage the community in volunteerism stood out to the CRCF board of directors as a golden one, said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit.

“Accessibility of healthy, nutritious meals is an ongoing need in the community,” said Ms. Buchheit. “We hope our contribution allows Operation Super Harvest to continue its growth and close that accessibility gap to make our community a healthier place.”
Donations can be made to the Community Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union St., Suite 203 or online at

Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email, or visit online at CRCF is also on Facebook ( and Twitter (@CattFoundation).

Maureen Curry and Karen Niemic Buchheit at a handicap-accessible raised gardening bed with Operation Super Harvest volunteers Janet Myers and Walter Schultz.

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