Elaine Ezerins, St. Albans Messenger
ST. ALBANS — Andrew Judge’s efforts to provide locally grown food to people in need has borne pies, chicken pot pies, to be specific.
On Friday, Judge and volunteers distributed the pies to patrons of Martha’s Kitchen. Last month, pies were also distributed in Milton via the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf’s food truck.
The pies were a community effort, made from chickens donated by the UVM Extension Service, raised on land owned by Tim Camisa, and fed with feed donated by Blue Seal.
Three local chefs contributed recipes and volunteers made the pies, which were distributed frozen and can be reheated in a microwave or oven.
Judge took responsibility for raising 19 chickens – there were originally 25, but three were lost to heart attacks and three to predators.
He turned to the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, which also allowed him to process the chickens at its facility. “I had a USDA inspector right next to me,” said Judge.
The birds yielded approximately 120 pounds of meat, which were turned into 180 pies by local volunteers using the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf kitchen. They followed recipes created by three local chefs.
Evelyne Martin turned to French chef’s Toulouse-Lautrec’s “The Art of Cuisine” for inspiration. Her pie is named “Toulouse La Cluck.”
Hannah Lyford of The Traveled Cup invented a “Chicken Curry Karma,” while Josh Lareau of Maple City Smoke labeled his pie, “American Classic.”
“It all came together because that’s possible in Vermont,” said Judge, who began this project not knowing how he would get it all done. “Here there’s lots of resources and people who step forward to help.”
“I like the message that Andrew has,” Lyford said. “To support local and to eat local food. And a passion of mine is creating recipes.”
Judge hopes to “spread the word on how to grow food in your backyard and share some of the surplus with your neighbors.”
He began a few years ago by distributing donated seeds to gardeners who agreed to donate some of the largesse from their gardens to local food shelves.
Next year, he wants to expand that concept to backyard chickens. Judge will provide participants with chicks and a coop. Participants will raise the chicks, which are fully mature in just seven weeks, and Judge will process the birds at the Hannaford center. A third of the birds will go to feed those in needs, and two-thirds will remain with the participants.
Those interested in taking part may contact Judge on the Seeds for Growth Facebook page.
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Elaine Ezerins, Messenger staff writer, also contributed to this report.