Jodi Smedley who heads corporate wellness for the Wildwood Family YMCA, now also called The Y, dropped off the remaining fresh produce yielded by the organization's community garden to Eureka's Food Pantry on Tuesday.
Donated produce included lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, and four different varieties of peppers.
Called 'Wild West Community Garden,' Smedley said she believed growing and sharing healthy foods was a very worthwhile endeavor. "We're looking forward to making the Eureka Food Pantry one of our primary places to donate to next spring," she said.
Each Y participating gardener paid a $25 annual fee to help cover setup costs. Read articles about the Y's 5,000-square-foot garden:
Smedley said the pantry's volunteer coordinators indicated food supplies are low, and that receiving fresh produce will be a real treat to the recipients.
"We have been donating fresh home grown produce to the Circle of Concern and the Eureka food pantry. Many of the gardeners are growing fall crops and so the garden continues to produce healthy, and fresh vegetables," she said.
(For background regarding the pantry, read previously published article: Eureka Food Pantry Lends Help)
The pantry is located in a lower level of the Eureka United Methodist Church. This food bank serves an average of 100 to 115 families a month who live in Eureka and the surrounding area. Clients are asked to provide proof of residence when they visit. The food bank depends solely on donations.
Smedley said from the very beginning, the garden was a community effort with donations from several local businesses, such as Meadows of Wildwood, Kohl's, Fick Supply and Purina Farms. She said several groups volunteered their time: Lafayette High School Key Club, Boy Scouts and Nathan Brandt, a UMSL horticulture specialist.
"So many people helped build it from an idea to an actual garden with 48 4X14 plots," said Smedley. "It is a very peaceful place where everyone loves to spend time at, admiring all of the garden plots, meeting people, and enjoying its serenity."
In addition to gardening, the wonderful community that was built, the lasting friendships that were formed, and the desire to grow healthy vegetables, Smedley said it was inspirational to have more control in the food choices they made. "We learned so much this year and had great results, despite the hot and dry summer. We had several fantastic guest speakers who taught us to handle nature's challenges, extreme weather conditions, bug issues, and how to create a healthy, organic garden," she said.
The Wildwood Y child-watch staff also had a garden for kids, which taught them about growing vegetables and making healthy choices. "We had a very successful first year, and are already making plans for next year," she said.