Local food builds community

Eric, Elderberry Farms

Meet Eric, owner of Elderberry Hill Farms, which is on the outer edges of Madison, WI. He has been growing in the Madison area for 12 seasons already, mostly selling to local restaurants and to Second Harvest Foodbank. Current restaurants that Eric works with include Graze, A Pig in A Fur Coat, Ahan, Bandit, and Madison Club. He thrives off of working within the local community and spending time with his family.

His farm is unique as a diversified farm, meaning that he grows a wide arrange of produce (currently over 20 varieties of produce). On our visit to his farm, we saw beautiful vegetables such as curly kale, dinosaur kale, swiss chard, green peppers, carrots, onions, and more. We are grateful for the array of produce Eric’s farm has provided since the early days of the pandemic. As of July 2022, Second Harvest Foodbank has purchased 1,721,966 pounds of produce from Elderberry. Produce is then sent out to our community food pantry partners at no cost. Working with Eric has been a pleasure and a partnership we are working to secure for years to come.

While working in the community with local farms isn’t a new idea, it could be considered new for food banks. Often there is a stigma that food banks only have canned or even expired food. While there are extensions on many non-perishable items, we understand the significance and joy fresh food can bring. We recognized that here in Wisconsin we have an abundant growing season, and a large part of our service area is covered in agriculture. So, it makes sense that we should try to source as much local food as possible and support our community with these nutritious foods. This practice also supports our local economy, making our community more resilient and bringing us closer together.