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Art Hulen helps harvest corn. Hulen is 82 years young and a 12-year volunteer.

The corn harvest at Colorado Farm To Table is an annual celebration of  hard work. Volunteers show up during the growing season to help with hoeing and weeding and then return for harvest time.  This year was no exception; twenty-six volunteers showed up Friday, Aug. 17, and Monday, Aug. 21, to pick 20,000 ears of corn.

Colorado Farm To Table is a nonprofit farm and ministry in Salida that raises produce for the sole purpose of providing to those in need around Colorado through soup kitchens, food pantries and warehouses. Farm To Table provides individuals and families in need with fresh produce at no cost.

Susie Shallers and Ralph Herzog pick corn at the Farm To Table farm on the outskirts of Salida.

“I’ve been distributing produce free of charge to the community for 22 years,” said Executive Director Tony Madone Jr. “This nonprofit has made a huge difference in many lives by providing fresh produce to those in need. Many volunteers have been working for several years with us.”

As Madone spoke, Volunteer Director Lisa Siegfried focused on organizing the work crew and counting crates of corn being added to the bulk storage bins.

Volunteer T.J. McDaniel talked about the importance of irrigation and spacing of the corn to allow plenty of sunlight for the short growing season. He reported Madone has worked hard over the years to get the right type of corn and the spacing needed for the climate in Salida.

Jim Oberheide drives the tractor for volunteers picking the corn.

McDaniel and Siegfried also pointed out the average cost per pound to produce and get the corn out of the field, which is now anywhere from $2.50 to $3.50 per pound.

Madone said he has harvested corn when the cost of producing it was as low as 74 cents per pound.

All factors of weather and mother nature play a part in a good growing season. This year an early hail storm caused some damage, which shows up as a fungus on the corn. Workers pick these ears and drop them to the ground to be picked up later.

T.J. McDaniel gathers ears of corn. He oversees the day-to-day operation from planting season through harvest.