The picking crew at the bunting farm is pictured above. Left to right, Art Bunting, Jason Bunting, Dan Parker, Roland Gantzert, Tom Brady and Jim Wahl. An entire acre of sweet corn was picked and donated to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.
The ears were flying at the Bunting Brothers Farm southeast of Dwight last Thursday. Family farm members, along with friends and neighbors, used a one-row picker pulled behind an open-cab John Deere tractor to harvest an acre of sweet corn that was “ear” marked for donation to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, their main office being located in Urbana.
This is the fifth year brothers Lee, Don, and Art have partnered with the Foodbank to donate sweet corn. The acre of corn takes around 4 – 5 hours to harvest, as progress is slow but steady using the one-row picker. An acre of corn is estimated to produce about 30,000 ears of sweet corn. The picking implement is pulled slowly behind the tractor while two men help feed the corn into the conveyer and a team of workers guide the ears into a holding container.
Once the container is full, the process stops until the full pallet of corn is offloaded and a new one is put in its place. Then ‘round and ‘round again until the plot is emptied. The full pallets of corn are loaded on a truck and hauled back to the warehouse for distribution. The labor can be a bit intensive, but ever so satisfying. The Eastern Illinois Foodbank is the primary food source for food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other programs working to feed the hungry in 18 counties in Eastern Illinois. The Foodbank acquires millions of pounds of food and grocery product through purchase or donation similar to the Buntings, and
distributes it across its network of more than 160 feeding programs. By partnering with EIF, emergency food programs are able to save millions of dollars each year in food purchase and handling costs. These savings allow them to focus their efforts and funds on more effectively working to alleviate hunger in our area. Locally, the Foodbank helps supply food in the communities of Chatsworth, Saunemin, Cullom, Forrest, and Pontiac. We all know the need is great, the Buntings are just doing their part. To get more information or donate to the Foodbank, go to www.eifoodbank.org