Spirit of St. Patrick's Day through spud donations

BEND, Ore. - Instead of the normal occurrence of wearing green and eating corn beef, one local non-profit is aiming to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a little bit differently this year.

The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance (HDFFA), along with Casad Family Farms and NeighborImpact are looking to give back through HDFFA’s Grow & Give program by incorporating the Irish spirit and long-time staple root-vegetable - potatoes!

Chris Casad, owner and operator of Casad Family Farms, grows thousands of pounds each year for Deschutes Brewery and their iconic french fries. However, not all spuds get a seat at the table; this Sunday, volunteers will head out to his farm in Madras to sort through extra potatoes, which will be donated to NeighborImpact and distributed throughout Central Oregon.

“You can’t tell potatoes or any other vegetable to grow in uniform shapes and sizes, it’s inevitable that some just don’t make the cut for restaurant or store quality,” Casad says regarding what in the agricultural industry is referred to as “seconds” or extras. “However, that doesn’t mean they’re not still edible and delicious.”

HDFFA’s Grow & Give program takes produce that might traditionally be left in the field or fed to animals and instead diverts it to the food pantry through their partnership with NeighborImpact. Together, they combat food waste and recover the extra vegetables through an old tradition called “gleaning.”

A once-common ritual, gleaning is when community members go to farms and collect the extra food at the end of the growing season. Grow & Give is a triangular approach to a linear problem, HDFFA provides the gleaning volunteers, Casad Family Farms provides the potatoes, and NeighborImpact provides the pick-up and distribution.

“It’s a great program where everybody wins. The farmer has a place for their excess food to go, NeighborImpact gets that food to families who need it and HDFFA involves community members that want to lend a helping hand and support Central Oregonians,” says Meiko Lunetta, program coordinator.

If you’re looking for a way to get moving this St. Patrick’s Day or in the future, come out with HDFFA and glean! Please email Program Coordinator Meiko Lunetta, or visit

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