Gardens offer bumper crops for charities

Published 8:07 pm Monday, November 23, 2009

It seemed as if the Ford Ranger simply couldn’t have held another collard green. But each time Ed Kapinus, Mike Kelly or Ruth Smith reached in they found yet another bag full.

These three volunteers of the community gardens initiative delivered an estimated 75 pounds of collards and another bag full of mixed greens to Oak Grove Baptist Church Saturday morning to help support the church’s meals program.

“This is wonderful,” Rosa Figgs, church member, said as the bags were carried in. “Most of these will go out to our senior citizens and widows.”

The church provides up to 150 meals each week to homebound individuals in their community and another 30 or more for a special Thanksgiving meal set for Tuesday.

“We go out every Tuesday except for the month of December and the month of June,” Figgs said. “We take those months off to give our volunteers some time off.”

As for the community garden project, Kelly said the collards and other vegetables from the East Suffolk garden location have gone to support a number of organizations including Suffolk House.

“We were over there this morning delivering some collards,” Kelly added.

As for the volume of produce, Kelly added the garden is still going.

“We probably picked half of the collards and will keep the other half for Christmas,” Kelly said.

The other community gardens established as part of this initiative are located at Holland Baptist Church and Chorey Park.

A harvest had been planned Monday at the Holland garden, where more than 100 pounds of collards were expected to be cut and then delivered to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which is partnering with the Salvation Army to provide a Thanksgiving dinner.

Carol Warren, a church member who works for Birdsong Peanut Co., has been leading the effort in Holland.

The Chorey Park garden has produced a “bumper crop of greens,” according to Kay Cherry of the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, which has spearheaded the garden effort. Most of the vegetables grown in Chorey Park will be used by the residents of that community, who have worked the plot along with Theresa Boone, Chorey Park manager, and Tyrone Johnson, maintenance supervisor.

Kelly added volunteers have worked these gardens throughout the year, growing produce from tomatoes to okra, in addition to this fall’s crop of collards and other greens.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with these folks,” said Kelly, who works for the City of Suffolk in the parks and recreation department. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Among the Suffolk organizations responsible for funding and establishing the gardens were Johnson’s Gardens Inc., the Suffolk Ruritan clubs, the Suffolk Clean Community Commission, the South Hampton Roads Resource Conservation and Development Council, Suffolk Partnership members and other companies and individuals from Hampton Roads and elsewhere.