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Russell Veggies

Farm Shares Production Wealth/ Farmer Perseveres to Share…

Despite experiencing her own personal loss, Val Russell is continuing to do her part to help eliminate food insecurity in southern Indiana.

When her husband, Kenny, died unexpectantly in December 2020, Val reduced her produce production plans. Despite a smaller slate of products, she is still planning to donate any over-production of fruits and vegetables to Veggie Rescue, a local nonprofit that works with farmers to reduce food waste.

“Part of their program is providing local produce to the underserved in our community,” Val says. “Produce is provided by local farmers and we donate our extra fruits and vegetables every Saturday during the growing season. Anything extra we have is donated”

Russell Veggies was instrumental in starting and providing veggies for this endeavor.

“Their vision,” she says, “is to help create a healthier community by building spaces to grow food and educate families in an urban environment. We also sponsor six garden plots for Veggie Rescue’s new community garden.”

In addition to donating produce, Val is providing the organization with chicken wire, wiring posts, tomato cages and other infrastructure needs for their community gardens.

“We are trying to help them be more successful and productive, while also saving them money,” she says. “I have an abundance of gardening supplies available, and I’m happy to share with them.”

Since retiring several years ago, Russell and her late husband steadily downsized their farming operation.

“We were very successful selling our produce at roadside stands and marketing a basket of the week. We just did it on a smaller scale in recent years,” she says.

Before 2020, the couple had plans to take a long-awaited retirement trip and forego the 2020 planting season. Then COVID-19 hit, the trip was cancelled, and spring planting began as usual.

“Throughout the 2020 season, we took preorders with everybody wearing masks and a no-contact rule for the produce,” Val says. “We had just a few ofus working behind the table filling orders, but it worked.”

In 2021, Russell Veggies will sell asparagus, garlic, rhubarb and fruit, including blackberries, raspberries and apples.

“The blackberries are going to be prolific this year,” she says.

Helping Val with farming responsibilities are her son, Gary, her niece, Jennifer, her brother, CT, and their families.

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