By: Sharon Bushor
As a member of the Medical Center Community Garden, we were lucky enough to have several raised beds added to our garden site. Collectively we decided to dedicate one to grow and donate food for those in need. Initially we gave donations to churches that made meals for the homeless. More recently our donations have been to the Food Shelf.
Last year I volunteered to be responsible for this garden and our donations. Margaret, one of the site coordinators and I planted with plants donated by Red Wagon. What an incredible gift! We tried to select vegetables that produce throughout the season: beets, carrots, beans, kale and chard are always in the mix. This past year we added garlic and cabbages. Several other gardeners also donated plants. Roger and Cathy donated a broccoli plant – a plant that produced the largest, most beautiful head of broccoli I have ever seen. As a bonus, I continued to pick many florets through mid October. Liz and John gave a Roma tomato plant. Once again producing an abundance of large plum tomatoes into late fall. Sky agreed to make sure this garden was watered regularly. I organized picking and bringing our veggies to the Food Shelf. Initially it was once a week but at the height of the growing season it became more frequent. Over time, people waiting in line to pick up their food recognized me and would ask “What do you have today?” The day I brought the enormous head of broccoli, a man who arrived on a bicycle eyed it and hoped he would get it. In a very small way, our garden was helping to fill the need for food. The need was no longer faceless for me. It was the man on the bike, several extended families who would wait together, young and old couples and individuals all in need of food. COVID, as we all know, has taken a critical situation and made it a crisis.
I share this experience with you as gardeners and site coordinators begin to plan for the upcoming growing season. Please consider incorporating the model we used or one that works for your site and members. You will never regret it because THIS IS ONE ACTION THAT REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLES LIVES.