Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

June 25, 2014

Love grows in garden

We know; it’s only June. Corn is barely shin high, and backyard gardeners just recently have noticed small, green tomatoes on their vines.

But volunteers working the Community Garden near Ivy Tech Community College already have harvested 60.5 pounds of kale and kohlrabi. Thirty pounds of kohlrabi went to the Rescue Mission June 13. And on Monday, Jeannie Vondersaar of the Purdue University-Howard County Extension said 7 pounds of kale was delivered to Howard Haven and 23.5 pounds was taken to the Rescue Mission.

“The volunteers have donated over 383 hours in the garden,” Vondersaar said Monday. “We are off to a great start.”

Pounds and pounds of beets, bell peppers, yellow peppers, Swiss chard and zucchini soon will be collected. And in the coming weeks, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, butternut squash, summer squash, tomatoes and turnips will come in.

All will be distributed to community kitchens and residential centers.

Barbara Hight, who managed the kitchen at Open Arms Women’s Shelter at the time, told us in 2007 that the produce from the Community Garden means the women and children get fresh vegetables at lunch and dinner.

“They really enjoy the fresh green beans and the corn on the cob,” she said. “With the donation, we are able to provide a healthy meal.”

The Community Garden was started in the spring of 2003 as a pilot program between Ivy Tech, Purdue University-Howard County Extension and Purdue Master Gardeners from the Howard County Master Gardeners Association. It was designed to supply fresh produce to the community’s hungry and serve as a live laboratory for free public seminars in vegetable gardening.

In 2003, volunteers harvested 4,744 pounds. Last year, the total was more than 17,000 pounds – 8.5 tons – all on 1 acre of donated land with donated labor.

Thanks, volunteers, for your hard work. The folks at Coordinated Assistance Ministries, Gilead House, Howard Haven, Open Arms Women’s Shelter, Rescue Mission and many other agencies thank you, as well.

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