Saturday, June 2, 2012

Garden Hopes to Grow

Photo by Joe McGarity



This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by Bog Bean Books & Music on California Street in the Foundry Square and by St. John’s Barbary Coast on Balls Ferry Road in Anderson.

Community gardens continue to sprout up all over town, yet the goal of feeding the hungry within the community is still unmet.  The Fantom Penguin took a walk in the Garden of Hope with Lyle Faudree.

“Garden of Hope is a community garden like so many around the country whose purpose is to feed the hungry and so we grow food and we take it to those people in our community here that feed hungry.  And we do a year-round garden and try and provide as much food as we can.”

“The garden is about three years old.  I’ve been involved for about 18 months, through one growing season and now we’re just stepping into a new one again.”

“Well, we started out last year with around 10,000 square feet of garden and we’ve almost doubled that now.  It’s a little bit over 20,000 square feet.  And we harvested about 7,500 lbs. of produce last year and we’re guestimating this year it’ll be somewhere around 12,000 – 15,000 lbs.”

And where does that harvest end up going?

“Much of it goes to the Good News Rescue Mission.  It goes to Living Hope Compassion Ministries.  Some of it this year we want to take to Salvation Army and we have a lot families that just come to the garden, that are not doing very good, who are marginally employed and just need a little bit of help with their food bill.”

So you don’t have to actually be living on the streets to get some benefit from this?

“No.  We say in our advertising that we’re here to feed the Redding community which just covers every situation that you can think of.”

And you’re planning a farmer’s market?

“Yes.  On Saturdays from 8:00 – Noon we’re going to have some people come into the area and we’ll be selling food.  We’ll be selling produce.  People will have leather goods and things like that.  We’re probably going to have some music down here from time to time, so people coming by can stop in and have that experience.  We’d be happy to show them the garden and what we’re doing as well.”

“We grow a lot of onion and garlic because those are used in group settings to feed people for stews and for soups and things like that.  We’re growing some squash this year which gets used as a vegetable of course and for zucchini bread and other dishes that are made out of that.  We probably are going to have about 2,500 – 3,000 lbs. of tomatoes and some that’s canned; some of that salsa is made out of and much of that is just used in the daily feeding of the people in the community.  There’s approximately 1,000 people a day that need food that are unable to get it on their own.”

“And there are about 3,000 people that live on the streets currently in one shape, fashion, form or another out of their car or wherever they’re sleeping and probably about 125 – 150 families that are on the street with no shelter.”

“The big need right now is that we need to get a large rear-tine rotor tiller.  That’s probably the number-one thing we need to help us to continue to cultivate and rotate our crops and to keep that going.  We need soil amendments and people can buy those one bag at a time, one truckload at a time, however they want to do that and there’s a big need for that as well.  We always need garden tools because we have volunteer groups that come down that don’t always have their own tools.  Those are probably some of the more important things right now.”

What about volunteers?

“Anybody that wants to be a volunteer can look on our Facebook page or they can call me directly and we’d be happy to include them.  Most volunteers are coming down on Saturday but now that we have finished our planting for the most part, we need people during the week for watering and weeding as well.  And within about 6 – 8 weeks we’ll be harvesting and so with 300 tomato plants, we’ll need a lot of people just to pick tomatoes and make those available to the public.”

“This is a community garden that we want more and more people to be involved in.  And we have additional acreage that’s been given to us down on Knighton Road and in other areas of town where we could grow gardens if we had the volunteers to do that.  So my vision for this project is to start some other gardens in other geographical areas in town so people can have better access to this.  I don’t think a lot of people realize that the main mode of transportation for a lot of people in this town is either walking or riding a bike and so the closer we can get to where the real need is, the better off we’re going to be.”

“Just to give you an idea, the combined gardens in town that give food to the hungry are producing a little bit less than half of what we really need.  So we could double our output in all of the gardens that exist and it still probably wouldn’t be enough.  And people can grow vegetables right at home and take them to these places as well.  And we encourage that with families that like to garden anyway.”