Sunday, January 6, 2013

Seed and Feed Program from Arlington Community Garden


Food Pantry Plots - The Beginnings

My name is Terry, and I participate in the Seed and Feed, or, Adopt A Plot program at Arlington Community Garden. A couple of friends and I, affectionately known in some places as the Tres Amigas, were eating Thai food together and wondering how we could grow food for Food Pantries. We love to grow fruits and vegetables and are fortunate in having the means to feed ourselves. Others are struggling. Families, individuals, people who have lost their jobs - lots of people don’t have enough to eat. We love to garden. We needed a place to grow. We wanted to help the “food insecure”. Then we heard about Arlington’s Seed and Feed program. All our wishes were granted. 

Tres Amigas agreed with each other that we would each commit to once a month, more if we could manage it, going to Arlington Community Garden and grow food for people who are hungry. We agreed that between ourselves we would commit to one of us maintaining the Food Pantry plots every week. When we could, we would all three show up and visit while we weeded, planted and harvested food for people who need help. So we started in October and as of today our plots are feeding people. 

It Takes a Village

The saying is “it takes a village” and that’s been true for us. The steering committee of Arlington Community Garden decided that Food Pantry plots would be irrigated. This insured that the seedlings could survive until our once per week visits, as well as the  other Adopt A Plot volunteer’s plots.

Tree Hill Nature Center has supported the Garden and the Seed and Feed Program beautifully. Mark Mummaw, who manages Tree Hill, has provided compost (excellent compost!), has helped set up the irrigation, got rid of ants in beds and corrected small problems that amounted to major hassles, like fixing the lock on the back gate.

Another Arlington Community Garden volunteer has been harvesting the produce, weighing it, bagging it and driving it to the Arlington Services Food Pantry. This takes quite a bit of time and effort - every week. Tres Amigas were willing to harvest, but we had no where to store the food. The Steering Committee and generous donors from the  Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville bought a refrigerator, so now we can harvest incredible cauliflowers, broccoli, lettuces, cabbages, spinach, soon bok choi, brussel sprouts, and in the not so distant future all the spring produce, like cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and more.

This fall irrigation was installed (only in the Food Pantry plots due to cost), another time consuming and demanding task. We are so grateful for the prompt turn-around on getting us irrigated and our seedlings off to such a good start that the plants are healthy and bearing fruit as fast as we can harvest it.

Satisfying

Tres Amigas and “The Village” are feeding hungry people. This has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I’ve participated in. While doing something we love, something that feels like play, we are also rewarded with the satisfaction of giving back to the community. “Community Garden” has a whole new meaning for me. I would encourage anyone who enjoys gardening and community to find an Amigo or two to give the Adopt a Plot a try.



*446 pounds of food were donated to the Arlington Community Services in 2012. 
This is more than double the amount that was grown and donated in 2011, 
and is just the beginning! You can visit the Garden's website for up to date details about their Seed and Feed Program. If you want to get involved you can contact them at: 
info@arlingtoncommunitygarden.org or by calling 904-725-8133.