Marley Culp, 8, gathers corn during the annual Community Harvest and Hustle on Ebey Island on Sept. 7 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Marley Culp, 8, gathers corn during the annual Community Harvest and Hustle on Ebey Island on Sept. 7 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Ebey Island corn harvest to feed families around Washington

Volunteers picked three acres of corn that will be delivered to food banks throughout the state.

EBEY ISLAND — Kim Lofgren snapped ears of corn off the stalks with apparent ease, working efficiently down a row of sweet corn and tossing the ears to her niece, Katherine Eng, who stacked them in a cardboard box.

Lofgren moved at a faster pace than most of the other volunteers who had spread out in the 3-acre field.

“I used to work on a farm, so this is really easy,” she said.

It was Eng’s first time picking corn.

Both women, the expert and the newbie, were glad to spend a cool September evening picking fresh produce for those in need.

They joined more than 60 other volunteers Friday at a harvest event hosted by the Snohomish Conservation District and Food Bank Alliance. The corn will be distributed to food banks around the state.

“This is community,” said Jill Farrant, an intern for the conservation district. “It’s showing everyone, whether you have money or not, that you’re valuable enough for the first harvest.”

Avery Corradi, 9, and Emma Corradi, 4, eat corn during the annual Community Harvest and Hustle on Ebey Island on Sept. 7 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Avery Corradi, 9, and Emma Corradi, 4, eat corn during the annual Community Harvest and Hustle on Ebey Island on Sept. 7 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The cornfield was on Ebey Island near Everett, in an area that has long been farmland, said Cameron Coronado, project coordinator with the conservation district. Farmer Dan Bartelheimer planted the corn.

Jim Eichner of Food Bank Farm showed volunteers how to tell the difference between the white-tasseled sweet corn and the taller field corn. Then he showed them how to pull down and twist off the ears before stomping down the stalk so others could tell it had been harvested.

Volunteers followed his advice, gathering corn and loading it into banana boxes that quickly filled the back of a Food Lifeline delivery truck.

“When you feed others like this, you feed your soul,” Eichner said.

The Gulke family walks through the cornfield during the annual Community Harvest and Hustle on Ebey Island on Sept. 7 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Gulke family walks through the cornfield during the annual Community Harvest and Hustle on Ebey Island on Sept. 7 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

At least 66 people had signed up. They scattered throughout the field, most working in small groups.

Lauren and Kern McGee brought their 9-month-old son, Wesley, who observed the activity from a carrier worn by his dad.

Kern McGee is an engineer at Perteet in Everett. The company is celebrating its 30th year by doing service projects, and he wanted to find one where he could bring his son.

“I think it’s amazing that people can get fresh food at the food bank, straight from the farm,” Lauren McGee said. “It’s not something people always have access to.”

The conservation district started doing gleans in the past year or so, Coronado said. Historically, a glean is where excess produce is collected after the main harvest, usually for those in need. This was the first large event by the district, but the organization has been collecting extra produce from farmers markets and personal orchards.

“It doesn’t have to be a big effort in a big cornfield,” Coronado said. “Anyone can plant a row in the garden for their local food bank. Anyone can do this in their back yard.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

How to help

To learn more about growing fresh produce for food banks, email ccoronado@snohomishcd.org or call 425-377-7009.

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