LONG ISLAND (PIX11) — Island Harvest Food Bank’s farm-to-table growing initiative and its impact on hunger promote good nutrition for our Long Island neighbors in need. 

The nonprofit was founded in 1992, and is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. Their mission is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island. 

The food bank distributes the goods to families in need with help from 300 partner agencies, which include shelters, soup kitchens, places of worships, and schools.

The nonprofit feeds over 600,000 local families annually. What makes Island Harvest so unique is that workers take a more holistic approach that includes teaching people in vulnerable Long Island communities about nutrition and how to grow “better than organic produce.”

The 2-acre farmland was donated by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood and is located just two miles from the Long Island Expressway. 

There are many familiar fruits and vegetables grown on the property, including tomatoes, kale, cucumbers and zucchini. There are also some not-so-familiar produce items, such as husk cherries. 

Additionally, Island Harvest also incorporates a companion planting technique that was first started by Native Americans called the Three Sisters Garen, comprised of corn, beans and squash.

The corn makes a nice tall stalk, which provides support for the beans to climb up the corn. Beans add nitrogen into the soil, which is essential for crops to grow. The squash will grow in the ground; their leaves are meant to keep moisture and minimize weeds. And while the drought has taken a toll on some of these crops, they’re still very much alive beneath the surface, made possible with a drip irrigation system. This method conserves water while keeping the ground moist.

Every seed planted makes up building blocks needed to build a stronger, healthier Long Island.