In the early 1990s, Rick and Karen Reisinger just wanted to grow enough apples to pay the taxes on their expansive hillside property above Watkins Glen. Back then, Karen was a personnel manager at an architectural firm and Rick managed Cornell’s research orchards in Ithaca.
By 2004, expansion at Reisinger’s Apple Country became a full-time commitment for Karen, Rick and three of their four daughters, as well as a way of life for three generations of the Reisinger family.
The Reisinger’s have been Food Bank farm partners for more than 15 years, donating excess produce for food pantries, providing apples and cider for our events, and offering gleaning opportunities for volunteers. They also donate directly to local pantries.
“We’ve enjoyed working with the Food Bank for these years. We know the need is there and our farm is big enough that we have extra and small enough that we can accommodate whatever is needed. We always have fruits that fit the need,” Rick says.
Clients are always appreciative, taking home large bags of freshly-picked Reisinger apples from our Mobile Food Pantries and partner agencies.
“We have 14 grandkids and seven great grandkids. We know it’s important to get good food to them, and apples are about as good as it gets,” he adds.
New York’s Farm to Food Bank tax credit — available for the first time last year — now makes it easier for farmers to donate fresh produce for people in need. Farmers can claim up to $5,000 annually through a refundable tax credit equal to 25 percent of the fair market value of their donations to emergency food programs. The credit relieves some of the high cost of harvesting, processing and transporting produce, making donations a viable option for New York farmers.
In 2018, Reisinger’s donated 22,348 lbs. of apples to the Food Bank.
“We would not have been able to do what we did without the tax credit. We give as much as we can but it’s nice to get paid for what you grow, as well,” Rick says.
The New York Farm Bureau reports farmers donated 1.6 million pounds more in 2018 than the previous year — translating to about 9 million additional meals for neighbors in need, and a sign that legislation can end hunger!