AmeriCorps members donated impressive amounts of food to the local soup kitchen and food bank after harvesting the community vegetable garden.
As of Monday, 90 pounds of food from the community garden has been donated to the Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen and the Havre Food Bank.
The food was harvested from the vegetable garden AmeriCorps members started earlier this year to “benefit the community through the local food bank and soup kitchen and as an initiative for sustainable food systems,” said Samantha Rybicki, the information and outreach manager for the Vibrant Futures at Opportunity Link Inc., in a press release.
“We started out planning to give 10 percent to the soup kitchen and food bank,” Rybicki said. “But there was so much, we started giving away over half of it.”
The total produce poundage is approximately 140 pounds. Around 65 percent of this was donated to the soup kitchen and food bank. The rest has been distributed among volunteers and HRDC.
Anyone who wants to volunteer to work in the gardens by pulling weeds and maintaining the crops is accepted, but, according to Rybicki, the volunteer force is mainly composed of AmeriCorps volunteers.
Rybicki said those in need of or who want produce from the garden can contact Vibrant Futures at Opportunity Link to arrange a pick-up time.
The raised, eight-bed garden was begun by Opportunity Link, AmeriCorps and the Human Resources Development Council of Havre on HRDC property. Baltrusch Construction Inc. donated two truckloads of topsoil to the organizations to help them start the garden. In April, seedlings were planted indoors on Global Youth Service Day and in June, they were placed into the newly-installed garden.
The crops included brussel sprouts, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, broccoli, hot peppers, bell peppers, Swiss chard, cabbage and yellow squash.
Opportunity Link is an organization that searches for “solutions to reduce poverty and help the communities of north-central Montana achieve and sustain independence, prosperity and a better way of life,” according to their website.
Vibrant Futures is a regional planning project that covers 11 counties and three reservations in Montana.
Vibrant Futures focuses on grassroots planning for communities. During meetings in which they ask residents for input on what they would like to see in their communities, the idea of a community garden to provide better access to fresh foods prompted AmeriCorps to take on the project.
“This partnership between OL, AmeriCorps, and HRDC was established in the essence of community learning, volunteerism, and food sufficiency. Partners plan to continue and expand the garden effort to bring youth and community education, opportunities for community engagement and additions to the local fresh foods system to the area,” says a press release from Opportunity Link.
Those interested in volunteering at the community garden can contact Michael Stone at 265-3699, ext. 223.