Lisbon's Kent Family Growers donates tomato plants for United Helpers residents
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 2:35 pm

The Kent Family Growers donated 26 tomato plants to United Helpers Intermediate Care Facilities this month. Pictured from left to right are United Helpers Mosaic employee Jo Ann Lynch, resident Clifford, United Helpers Mosaic employee Mary Ashley, Brazilian farm hand Igor Corderio, Hungarian farm hand Peter Winkler, resident Heather, French farm hand Alexandre Correia and Dan Kent.

LISBON -- When they discovered a surplus of tomatoes from this year's grow, Kent Family Growers owners Dan and Megan Kent decided to donate the overflow to United Helpers.

The plants will be cared for by residents at various Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) across St. Lawrence County, providing a fun activity and a healthy addition to meals.

On June 6, Mr. Kent opened up the farm to ICF residents Heather and Clifford and United Helpers employees Jo Ann Lynch and Mary Ashley to show them around.

The tour included the greenhouse, where Mr. Kent grows his tomatoes. He operates an organic farm while keeping pests and diseases off the plants. It was this process that allowed him to develop a surplus of tomatoes in the first place.

“The reason we have extra,” Mr. Kent said, “Is that last year after we planted the tomatoes in the structure some tomatoes were killed by frost.”

After that experience, where nearly a tenth of the crop was lost or damaged, Mr. Kent said, “We are in the habit of growing extras in case something happened.”

But up until learning about United Helpers through long-time customer and United Helpers Mosaic physical therapist Carrie Amo, Kent said they just used the extra plants as a fertilizer additive.

Instead of grinding them up, Kent donated 26 tomato plants to the ICFs. Each of the six facilities located across St. Lawrence County will get plants, which will provide tomatoes anywhere from six to sixteen ounces for the residents within about a month.

Kent Family Growers, a certified organic farm located at 1301 County Route 31, offers a variety of ways for people to get their products on the dinner table.

Besides frequenting the Canton Farmer’s Market, participating in the Finger Lakes Organic Cooperative and having their produces on the shelves of the Potsdam Food Co-Op and Nature’s Storehouse in Canton, the Kents have community supported agriculture (CSA) programs that operate year-round.

Kent said that since 2012, they’ve seen a lot of success with their winter CSA offering and they’re hoping to expand the program.