Most of the chickens at Eco-Friendly R & J’s B & B Farm in Alburgh came running around the red barn when they heard owners Ronald Straight and Judith Tremblay approach. The chickens knew they’d be fed.

But the husband-and-wife team from St. Amadeus Church in Alburgh, part of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, feeds more than chickens: They share the eggs the 50 or so Rhode Island Reds lay with people who visit local food distribution sites, including at the St. Amadeus Parish Center.

In the first nine months of 2021, the couple donated $1,800 in eggs as well as some of the fruits and vegetables they grow on their 10-acre farm.

“I feel humbled by the fact that we can participate in something so important as feeding people,” said Tremblay, a retired mechanical engineer.

She and her husband not only donate food to help the local food insecure, they also pick up and distribute donations twice a week from a Swanton grocery store. “It’s hard not to be touched and be part of all the goodness going on,” she said.

Straight is a retired equipment technician, but he comes from a farming family.

Years ago he planted grapes to make wine, juice and jam, but they drew Japanese beetles. To eradicate them, he brought chickens to the farm to eat them, but then he had too many eggs for his family. He began selling them, but when the pandemic hit, demand dropped, so the couple began donating eggs to the St. Amadeus food shelf last year.

They usually donate 10-20 dozen a week to the food shelf and other venues, but they expect that number will decrease as the hens lay fewer eggs in cold weather.

“We just want to give back to the community,” Tremblay said, noting extensive media coverage during the height of the pandemic about food insecurity. “There is a need right here in our community.”

“People need the food [now] even more,” her husband added.

He is motivated to share what the farm produces because “it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

But what is right, he added, is also taking care of the Earth. That’s why he and his wife installed solar panels on their property, use a pellet boiler for heat and collect rain water for their crops. “We’re trying to do everything ‘green,’” he said.

For both Straight and Tremblay, caring for people in their community is important, and so is their faith, which “fits” into their daily life through their care for others, care for the environment and giving back to the community. “We’re just the instruments. It’s humbling to see we’re able to help,” Tremblay said.

—Originally published in the Winter 2021 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.