Community garden triples food bank produce
By receiving fresh garden produce from Marion’s community garden, Marion County Resource Center and Food Bank has been able to triple the seasonal vegetables and herbs distributed, manager Cathy Henderson said.
Most of the products at the food bank come from the Kansas Food Bank in Wichita.
“We don’t get a lot of locally grown produce from the KFB, Henderson said. They do supply us with apples, mangos, avocados or whatever they have on hand, but it’s nothing steady.”
Henderson and her volunteers were delighted when Marion High School FFA started a community garden for the foodbank three years ago.
“It’s an outstanding program and we support it 1000 percent,” she said. It has not had one single negative to it.”
The garden gave 1,800 pounds of fresh, clean produce to the food bank last year, garden manager Pam Byer said.
Volunteers plan, prepare, raise and harvest the vegetables, Byer said. “Sometimes we throw in something different, like swiss chard,” she said.
Henderson said the produce has been well received even if recipients aren’t sure how to cook something.
Tristen Cope and Mytra Billings with Marion County Extension have helped.
“Mytra has been so helpful,” Henderson said. “She comes to the food bank two times a month with prepared dishes that she shares with the neighbors picking up their commodities. She invites them to taste the sample and gives them cooking tips and recipes to follow at home.”
Volunteers at the garden have set a goal of providing even more produce this year.
“This donation increases the quality of life and health for our neighbors,” Henderson said. “It’s not surprising to see all the crops taken home each distribution day.”
The garden features a cornucopia of vegetables and herbs. There is asparagus, rhubarb, and sweet potatoes along with lettuce, swiss chard, carrots, radishes, and beets and numerous types of squash. Cucumbers and watermelon are included as well as lots and lots of tomatoes. Onions, leeks, sweet corn, bell and jalapeno peppers, okra and numerous herbs round out the garden offerings.
New food bank volunteer Sarah Kelley said the recipients seemed happy to get newly harvested produce.
“A couple of people said it’d been a long time since they’d had access to beets, cabbage and such,” she said. Some of them are even open to trying something new like swiss chard.
The city provides the building at 1220 E. Main St.
Any county resident may obtain food without documenting need. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursdays.
Donations are tax-deductible.
Last modified June 28, 2018