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Harvesters 'teaching garden' shows clients how to grow food

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-26 06:46:08-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Every Saturday morning, a master gardener like Mary McClure volunteers at Harvesters' teaching garden outside the community food network’s Kansas City, Missouri, warehouse.

“It’s great to be out in the garden and doing meaningful work,” McClure said. “It really doesn’t feel like work.”

Her “work” is to show people how to grow their own produce. The garden is overflowing with kale, lettuces, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and more.

“[Fresh produce] is something clients desperately want,” McClure said.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2020, Harvesters distributed 17 million pounds of produce. That amount is possible because of partnerships with large farms and other donors. The small garden on the premises isn’t intended to supply the community food network.

“I like the story of give a man a fish today, he’s not hungry today. But teach him to fish and he’s never hungry," Gene Hallinan, Harvesters’ communications manager, said. "That's the same thing with the garden. Teach them how to garden and they’ll always have good, healthy food."

McClure and other gardeners teach clients the ropes Saturday mornings. Visit Harvesters’ website for information on scheduling a tour of the demonstration garden.

Her advice for those interested in starting their own garden is to start small, grow something they enjoy eating (she said lettuces and cherry tomatoes are easy for beginners) and not forget to include flowers to attract pollinators. Also, make it fun.

She herself planted a garden to grow the ingredients for pizza sauce and toppings: plum tomatoes, oregano, basil, onions and peppers.