Micro-farmer to grow produce for COVID-hit rural families in need

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An Oxford County micro-farmer is sowing the seeds of a campaign to grow fresh produce for rural families in need this summer.

Jeffrey King, from Lakeside, a small village south of St. Marys, plans to support families hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering fresh vegetables from his garden through the growing season.

“I just thought, ‘What can I do, doing what I do, to help others?’ ” he said. “I can grow food. I’m good at growing food.”

A volunteer firefighter and stay-at-home dad of two boys, King has been micro-farming and selling his garden produce to locals for years.

But this year, he’s making a switch, aiming to expand his endeavours and donate the produce to children and families struggling financially.

He’s working with municipal officials and local schools to identify families in need in Lakeside, Embro, Thamesford and area.

“In our community, we don’t have food banks, we’re very rural,” King said. “I’d like to find a few families within our own community, it’ll give you that sense of community support.”

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King is raising money online to cover the costs of seeds and supplies and to expand his operation.

He said for about $800 a family, he can provide fresh produce — cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beets — weekly for the bulk of spring, summer and fall.

Since King launched his online fundraiser, other local vendors have offered to contribute other essential items, like hygiene products, to his weekly deliveries.

He aims to support six to 10 families through the year.

“They can take the money they would’ve spent on groceries and put it toward things like rent, hydro … and not have to worry about the large expense of food,” King said.

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