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Bradenton community farm steps up to feed families at Christmas

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Christa Leonard thought a few people in town might be interested in some fresh produce for their Christmas dinners.

Now, organic vegetables from Geraldson Community Farm are reaching families as far as Melbourne.

"I reached out to friends," says Leonard, operations manager at Geraldson. "Then it turned into 10 or 15 people reaching out and saying 'yes, we need this.'"

Geraldson is funded by memberships. Locals pay about $35 for a weekly share of their vegetables.

Farm staff usually take the holiday week off, but instead donated this week's harvest so families can eat organic on Christmas.

Leonard says she was motivated to put their food in the homes of people who don't have access to fresh produce due to either proximity, or cost.

"We live eat and breathe this, so it's nice to share it with people who necessarily wouldn't have access to it," she says.

About 50 percent of their bags went to Sarasota's All Faiths Food Bank, who say local produce make up more than a quarter of their annual donations.

"It's in our 2016 work plan to build the relationships with more local farmers to help increase our produce distribution," says Sarasota chief operating officer John Livingston. "It's fresh, it's healthy, it's good for you."

Christy Beres received multiple bags from a family friend who is a member of the farm. She says she's always seeking fresh produce to feed her seven children, but it can be hard to come by.

"It's a little costly, especially with all nine of us," says Beres. "It's a real blessing when something like this comes our way."

Beres will be sharing her donation with more family in Venice on Christmas Eve, and expects the veggies to feed her home for at least a week.

Geraldson Farm also included suggested pairings and descriptions of their vegetables along with the bags, for families who may not be familiar with some of their more specialized produce like kale and radishes.