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Fresh Fruit Farm’s scavenger hunt fights hunger

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LOUISBURG — Four nonprofits have joined forces to fight hunger through a fundraising campaign offering printable scavenger hunts for kids.

First Fruits Farm in Louisburg has joined with Real Food for Kids, the Children’s Defense Fund and Rise Against Hunger to raise money to fight food insecurity and to offer family-friendly activities while social distancing.

“We’re in a unique space with the current pandemic,” said Jason Brown, founder of First Fruits Farm and former NFL player. “We came upon the idea of a scavenger hunt people can download, especially while they’re at home right now. It gives kids a positive, constructive thing to do as well a help parents with activities while so many kids are out of school.”

The scavenger hunts are free to download, but a $5 donation is recommended. Each hunt takes around eight minutes to set up and can be completed entirely inside.

“A lot of people are facing a financial crisis right now,” Brown said. “The events that help fund our spring and summer plantings have been canceled.”

In addition to several field trips, First Fruits Farm had to cancel its Easter Eggs-stravanganza, which helps raise money to plant crops. The farm has also seen a drop in the number of volunteers.

“Many of our volunteers have shied away as well,” Brown said. “We usually have around 500 volunteers to help with our spring garden. But people are staying home, so we’re not seeing that.”

While there are many things people can do to help, donations will help First Fruit plant its sweet potato crop, Brown said. They harvested around 75,000 pounds of sweet potatoes last year, which were sent to food banks, soup kitchens and church pantries.

“In 2019, we broke a million pounds of sweet potatoes,” Brown said. “The sad fact is there’s such a tremendous need locally. Franklin County touches so many other counties with a tremendous need that the entire supply is absorbed locally.”

First Fruit Farms also supports local community gardens by starting seeds in its greenhouse and donating them to gardens. Brown also set up a Sow-a-Seed program to help local residents grow gardens themselves and donate to their neighbors in need.

“Everyone can still bring awareness to food insecurity by doing their part,” Brown said. “They can still sew seeds at home in their backyard, in a raised bed garden or in flowerpots.”

The idea of a Victory Garden began in World War II when people began growing vegetables at home instead of purchasing them at the grocery store, so supplies could be used by those who were not capable of growing vegetables, such as the elderly and military members. The same concept can work today, Brown said.

“This is a time where everything ripples through the food chain and supply,” Brown said. “It’s important everyone be accountable and do their share to bring awareness to food insecurity.”

The “Spring Fun” printable can be downloaded from http://wisdomforlife.org/firstfruitsfarm. It includes tips to help parents set it up and activities to go beyond the initial scavenger hunt.

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