Interview: Melanie Mendiola of Farm to Table

Farm to Table Encourages Families to Eat Healthy 
By Mailani Matsuno
Mangilao, GU–Farm to Table Guam Corp. is a non-profit organization that delivers fresh produce straight to island homes.  “This is an organic farm.  We really try not to bring other farms’ produce here,” co-founder Melanie Mendiola said, as she took St. John’s summer school students on a tour of the site, which is adjacent to Guam’s Department of Agriculture.
Mendiola explained that since the organisation’s inception, its subscriber base continues to grow.
“We partner with about 30 different farmers… We’ve had over 200 subscribers in the last two years.   Right now, we average right around 30 to 40 [per month].  It depends on how many people are travelling, their time commitment and how much time they want to spend cooking,” Mendiola said, noting that subscribers receive the best seasonal produce on a weekly basis.
Mendiola, now 36 years old, originally embarked on a career in banking after completing a degree at New York University.   She started Farm to Table with her late sister in 2009, after deciding to leave the Big Apple and return home to Guam.  Mendiola is now a key proponent of the healthy living movement currently underway on Guam, as rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer continue to soar at dangerously high rates.  Her organization also gives back to the local community, not only by promoting better eating habits but also by employing disabled individuals.
Back on the farm, Mendiola said that her team has developed farming methods that are adaptable to Guam.  When planting and growing, non-indigenous crops like broccoli and tubers, Farm to Table observes the seasonal cycles of plants grown in tropical locations like Florida.
Fruits and vegetables are being picked and cared for by hand on a daily basis.  In addition, they operate in large part, with materials donated to them by local businesses.  Concrete supplier Perez Brothers, for example, donated blocks, which are being used to support saplings and seedlings.
 “We use these tables a lot and the really cool thing about these tables are that they are almost 100% upcycled.  They are better off high up, because they don’t attract bugs… and it is easier on my back,” Mendiola pointed out.
A broad variety is ready to be harvested: lettuce, eggplant, kale, basil and starfruits. Farm to table even makes their own honey.  “That’s why we have a lot of the basil and stuff like that because bees need flowers and things that they can pollinate on,” Mendiola said, standing just steps away from a honey bee colony.
Farm to Table was originally funded by a government grand, which was written by Mendiola and her sister.  Today, promotion is key in ensuring not only Farm to Table’s success, but also in promoting healthy living among island residents.
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