Our FarmShare for Homebound Seniors program delivered more than just food to one customer this season. For Theo in Monson, the service offered sustenance, entertainment, and the chance to get creative in the kitchen! Of all of our customers, Theo ordered the most diverse list of vegetables and fresh herbs from the program this year.
“I’m stuck at home and I don’t get out much, but I like to watch cooking shows and experiment!” said Theo. She said that she loves to collect cooking magazines and that her favorite show is Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. As a PRFC FarmShare for Homebound Seniors customer, Theo received her choice of veggies each week from Helios Horsepower Farm in Guilford. She had $50 to spend on whatever she wanted during the season and her choice produce was delivered right to her door each week.
Each Monday, our customer service volunteer for Helios, Leslie, called Theo to let her know the farm's availability for the week. "As soon as she said something odd, I’d look up a new recipe," said Theo. "It gives you good ideas--just try something new and see what happens!”
Theo is originally from Massachusetts and moved to Monson to be closer to her sister and brother-in-law after they moved up. She began having serious health issues in 2013 when she had a series of complications related to Legionnaire’s disease. She even lived through being in a coma! Theo said that she is thankful that her health issues happened here in Maine because she isn’t sure she would have been treated as urgently in Massachusetts. Strokes and blood clots have impacted her mobility.
When I asked her if FarmShare made a difference in her food accessibility, Theo said, “it comes in handy! If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t have been able to get out and try new things. When you are on disability, money doesn’t last long. It was convenient and the $50 really helps. You wouldn’t think it would buy much food, but it does. It goes a long way. I wish I could go out and shop for food every day, but I can’t. It was so nice to have things brought to me.”
When many people think of free food programs' produce, they might envision ill-shaped or otherwise second-best fruits and veggies. The FarmShare for Homebound Seniors program is decidedly not that! There were many times that Lizzy Koltai-Price of Helios Farm handed me vegetables picked right from the field and I was able to deliver them to Theo in minutes. Theo and I bonded one delivery day over a bunch of basil just picked and still warm from the sun--its fragrance filled my delivery van and then the hallway of her apartment building. The produce from Helios is organic, fresh, and in stunning condition. "You see all of these cooking shows and they have all of the ingredients they need," said Theo. "I liked that feeling."
I asked Theo for a summary of some of the new produce she tried this season. She was honest! "Leeks--those are great, like a combination of garlic and onion. On cooking shows, they show them really washing the leeks, but the ones I got were always so nice and clean. They must wash them really well. Fennel--not a fan. Spring onions were good. Fresh herbs were nice, they really do make a difference in flavor.
Theo said that she wishes she had tried to make potato leek soup. She also regrets not budgeting some of her share to use on late-season crops like squash. She also wishes she knew more about canning to preserve things to eat later. She said some of her favorite things she cooked this season were peppers and onions simmered into spaghetti sauce, and leeks and shallots added to alfredo sauce.
The FarmShare for Homebound Seniors 2021 season has come to a close, but I can't wait to see what Theo cooks up next year! Learn more about the program here: https://www.prfoodcenter.org/farmshare