By Jessie Hellmann Kokomo Tribune
---- — On Touby Pike Road, just north of North Street sits a one-acre community garden that feeds the hungry in the community.
In fact, last year the volunteer-supported garden produced 15,099 pounds of food, which was donated to local charities like the Kokomo Rescue Mission, Kokomo Urban Outreach and Open Arms.
“It’s a garden primarily used for providing for the needy in Howard County and Kokomo,” said Becky Swails, the garden’s coordinator.
The garden just experienced its first two harvests of the year, raking in 133 pounds of produce to be donated to local charities.
Volunteers work in the garden from March through the first frost, harvesting on Mondays and Thursdays, Swails said.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say working in the garden is like therapy,” Swails said. “And some people do it because it’s in their nature to help others. They’ve done it all their lives and this is something they can do and still enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.”
Eleven years ago, the Howard County Master Gardeners, the Purdue Extension Service and the Ivy Tech Foundation worked together to create and find a place for the garden, and now it produces just about everything you can think of, Swails said.
While sweet corn, cabbage, green beans and tomatoes are the most popular requests, the garden also produces beets, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, kale, eggplant, onions, peppers, potatoes, squash and turnips.
Those interested in volunteering should come to the garden on Mondays or Thursdays from 8 to 11 a.m.
Kokomo Urban Outreach Executive Director Jeff Newton said the community garden donations help the organization feed 800 families each month.
“It’s huge for us because in the summer time we get a little busier because children get out of school, and we have fresh vegetables for them, which is great for nutrition,” Newton said.
Urban Outreach receives the food for free from the garden and gives it away to the needy in the community.
“If we didn’t have the help, it would be more expensive for us to stock our pantry each month,” Newton said. “It’s stuff we don’t have to buy when they give it to us. We really appreciate it.”