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Harvest With a Heart

Milford Coffee Shop and Market Puts Community First

Writer / Julie Yates
Photography Provided

Harvest With a Heart nourishes not only the bodies of Milford residents, but also their spirits. The nonprofit organization, which includes both Harvest Coffee and Harvest Market, recently found a new home at 207 North Higbee Street, and has served the community for several years. It started with the simple idea of sharing excess garden produce and has developed into an organization that strives to make a real difference in the community.

“In 2004 a group of moms were talking about what a shame it was that they had extra garden produce that was just going to waste,” says Karena Wilkinson, director of outreach and manager of the coffee shop. “The idea of setting up a card table to share the produce with the community evolved. Eventually the market moved to a pole barn and expanded as people dedicated an extra row of their gardens specifically for donating to it.”

As the years went on, the market leaders joined forces with a local food pantry. In 2017 Wilkinson began Harvest Coffee, which was initially housed in a small building. A three-year search was then conducted for more suitable space. In June of 2021 the market and coffee shop relocated together to the current location, and the food pantry found a new home in a church.

Milford Coffee Shop and Market

“I was a teacher for 18 years before I got the idea to start Harvest Coffee,” Wilkinson says. “There were a lot of students that were taking their own lives. I knew that more than just talk was needed to support kids and their families. This is more than just a coffee shop. It’s a place where kids can go after school and families can hang out.”

The cafe offers free breakfast and lunch when school is closed. Students in grades 3 and up can take part in a vocational program. Each participant maintains a ledger sheet to keep track of their duties and hours. Tasks include sweeping, watering the garden, doing dishes and taking out the trash. Besides supporting children, the cafe leaders also plan activities and events that embrace the entire family such as movie nights.

The market meets the need for fresh produce since the only food store open in Milford is Dollar General. It is supplied by donations from residents. A local individual donates seed and labor to plant sweet corn, which is then harvested by yet another farmer. Four jars labeled Harvest Coffee & Market, Milford Public Library, Milford Volunteer Fire Department, and HWAH Scholarship (a scholarship for a student furthering their education in the agricultural field) are set out as a way to pay for the fresh goods. It is understood that people only give what they can afford.

“The market runs on Monday and Wednesday in late afternoon from mid-July through the beginning of October,” Wilkinson says. “Our long-range goal is to have things in the shop all year round. We would like to offer limited produce such as lettuce from local providers all the time.”

Milford Coffee Shop and Market

Harvest Coffee and Harvest Market are located on the site of the former Theresa’s Delectables Bakery and Café. Visitors to town still drop in expecting to purchase legendary Theresa’s cheeseballs. Today the cheeseballs are made by Kuhns’ Kannery, and the Harvest With a Heart team is glad to offer both the jalapeño and pimento-and-onion varieties for sale.

The coffee shop serves breakfast and lunch daily. Baked goods such as special-order cakes and cheesecakes are made on-site. Locally made cider and flavored milks from a dairy in Shipshewana are also offered.

“The community support has been fantastic and it is amazing to see how people have stepped up,” Wilkinson says. “We support the community’s physical health with fresh produce, but we care for their mental health as well. People want to give back and see positive change, and we would love to have more volunteers. We have wonderful volunteers that work a few days a week doing things such as washing dishes. Most of our big projects have been dedicated gifts. One donor bought us a nice television that is now in our basement area.”

Wilkinson says all donations are tax deductible, and can be sent to P.O. Box 425, Milford, Indiana, 46542. They can be addressed to either Harvest Coffee or Harvest With a Heart.

Harvest Coffee and Harvest Market are located at 207 North Higbee Street in Milford. Call 574-658-3066 or visit harvestwithaheart.org for more info.

Milford Coffee Shop and Market

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