By Sue Certain
Garden for the Hungry Project Coordinator
In the frost of winter, the hope of spring, the heat of summer, or the shortening days of autumn, the Blue Heron Nature Preserve's Community Garden provides a changing array of vegetables for Atlanta's homeless. We have a dedicated plot which has a sign saying, "Garden for the Hungry", aka G4H for short. Vegetables planted outside the big garden fence, donations from community gardeners and friends (friends from my book club, and friends living in North Buckhead who know of the need), make up a sizeable contribution given throughout the year.
Last winter, there was giant chard. In early March, chard, carrots, and collards were harvested. In April, lettuce was the dominant crop. May brought carrots, parsley, thyme and sorrel: more radishes (thanks to Suzanne Logan) than anything else. In early June, onions were the most abundant crop; in late June, it was cucumbers. In early July, it was carrots, next trip cucumbers. The next two trips to Crossroads, in late July, brought a bumper crop of tomatoes. August produced a mix of summer produce: tomatoes, basil, peas, eggplants, peppers, and cucumbers. September's bounty featured sweet potatoes, courtesy of Kevin McCauley. Our latest trip, in October, featured 15 pounds of squash from Pat Stern, out of 23 pounds of produce. Our next trip is sure to feature all kinds of greens from fall/winter gardens. So far this year, we have given 228 pounds of food and water to Atlanta's homeless; 134.5 pounds of this was fresh produce. Floods and frost destroyed crops such as lettuce and chard, and worms ate beans, or our harvest would have been even greater. Sometimes crops are meager, say in a cold, dry winter when nothing grows. Other times are fertile, as when armies of carrots mature to the just-right stage all at once. But the G4H program this year has featured the largest annual contribution yet, and the year is still not over.
Thanks to friends of the BHCG G4H Project for their significant contributions: Jo Lynn Mariolis, Paula Yeatman, and Walda Lavroff. Thanks to gardeners at the Blue Heron Community Garden who contributed to the project: Cheryl Mowris, Suzanne Logan, Jane Ulicny, Linda Kappel, John Mehler, Ed Siller and Ines Hoster, Reggie and Natalie Colbert, Pat Stern, Kim and Kevin McCauley, Jill Mahaffey and especially Peter and Terry McCauley for trips to Crossroads, all the plants and seeds that you've donated and planted, as well as produce from your own gardens. Next year, let's have 100% participation!
A special big thank you to Farmer D Organics (www.farmerd.com) who gave us a lot of fall plants, plus composted soil for them. The pak choi has already been harvested once this fall, yet now has leaves the size of dinner plates.
All donations go to Crossroads Community Ministries Soup Kitchen (www.crossroadsatlanta.org). We appreciate the people there, especially Stan Dawson and Clyde Corbin, for their warmth, kindness, and gratitude. Starting this year, Crossroads has their own well-tended vegetable garden. The Little Nancy Creek Community Garden has also donated to Crossroads. Even so, food needs for Atlanta's homeless are great, and all these contributions and more are needed.