MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137


TITUSVILLE, N.J. - This Saturday, April 30, 2011, when the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey visit Howell Farm to help plant potatoes for area soup kitchens, they’ll bring more than work gloves and water bottles.  They’ll bring “Images from the Peace Corps Experience” – an exhibit of photographs and paintings created by artist Nancie Gunkelman, a former volunteer whose paintings have hung in the lobby of the United Nations building in New York City.

Created from images contributed by New Jersey’s Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (NJ-RPCV), the exhibit celebrates both the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, and Howell Farm’s longstanding commitment to preserving and teaching skills that, although rooted in history, are still applicable today.

During the exhibit’s public opening, slated for 11 a.m. in the Howell Farm’s visitor center, RPCVs will share descriptions of their jobs in international agriculture, education, health, water and sanitation, environment, information technology and small business development.  Afterward, all will once again don their volunteer hats and work alongside interns and visitors who are planting a crop of potatoes that will be donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries.

Members of the RPCV group have been coming to the “potato program” since it began in 1988, helping with the annual task of planting 12,000 row feet -- more than 2 miles -- of seed by hand.  The crop is maintained by the farm’s interns and later harvested with the help of school children and other visitors.  The 2010 crop generated nearly 2 tons of potatoes for food banks.

In addition to public programs like potato planting and harvesting, the farm demonstrates its “living history” by providing internships to prospective and returned Peace Corps volunteers seeking skills in animal-powered agriculture.  It also provides internships and workshops to people interested in appropriate technology, organic farming and sustainable agriculture – all of which are tied to methods used in the farm’s historical cropping operations.

“Mercer County’s historical farm continues to serve the needs of communities far and wide, and the future potato harvest, which will go toward our local food banks, is a practical and real application for Howell Farm,” Hughes said. “We are grateful and proud to have the support of the New Jersey Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Congratulate the Peace Corps on its 50th anniversary.”

Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, more than 200,000 volunteers have served in 76 countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Pacific, including 10,000 agricultural volunteers.  Several of the farm’s staff and volunteers are former Peace Corps volunteers.

To showcase the earthy connection between the farm and the Peace Corps, Gunkelman uses numerous agricultural images in the exhibit, which includes more than 100 subjects from countries where New Jersey volunteers served. She considers the exhibit a celebration of the joy and challenges of international public service – something that she and her family know a good deal about. After she and her husband George completed their Peace Corps assignments in Kenya, the couple continued to volunteer in international programs before settling down in Monroe Township, NJ.  Today, their son serves in a Peace Corps program in Cameroon, West Africa.

“The exhibit captures images of what Peace Corps volunteers do,” says Gunkelman, “As we do our jobs, we try to build relationships and promote understanding … and then bring the world back home.”

Images from the Peace Corps Experience will be on exhibit in the Howell Farm visitor center through June 19.

The farm is a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission.  It is located at 70 Woodens Lane, Lambertville, NJ 08530.  Hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m Tuesday – Saturday, and noon – 4 p.m. Sundays.  Parking and admission are free.

For more information, call the farm office at 609-737-3299 or visit websites www.mercercounty.org or www.howellfarm.org.