Garden of Giving helps grow a community
Rayann Martini, 11, and Jenev Collaro, 11, both with Girl Scout Troop 50556, work on clearing a field of rocks and brush to prepare it for tilling and growing.
Jen Akod and Emma Meyers, 10, plant onion bulbs. Emma is a member of the Girl Scout Troop 50556. AMANDA J. TREIBLE/TIMES NEWS
Doug Zimmer prepares the dirt for the onion bulbs to be planted.
The ESSA Bank and Trust Foundation donated the fence around the property, which was installed last October.
Onion bulbs being planted. Onions are one of the cold-weather crops that can survive the cold weather that they can experience in spring.
Growing a garden takes a lot of time, patience and care - the same goes for a community.
The Garden of Giving is completing both of these tasks all while fighting hunger and providing fresh produce to those in need.
Tammy Graeber started the Garden of Giving in 2008 after she saw a need in Monroe County for fresh produce in food banks.
"I actually went to volunteer at a food bank, and when I recognized the need in the community that there was no fresh produce in our food banks at that time, it was put on my heart," Graeber said.
The Garden of Giving has come a long way since its beginnings.
Approximately 1,500 pounds of produce were donated that first year. Graeber hopes to donate 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of produce this year.
"The Garden of Giving is looking for expansion this year. We're tripling our crops," Graeber said.
The program is 100 percent volunteer run. The volunteers are planting onions, which is a cold-weather crop.
Doug Zimmer, new to the Garden of Giving, is donating his knowledge in farming. Zimmer is a farmer on an island in the middle of the Delaware River called the Shawnee Island Farm, a part of the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort.
"I'm trying to coach these guys along, give them a little history about why we're planting onions this time of year," Zimmer said. "I hope to plant a seed with people, so to speak. … The joys of growing."
"I've enjoyed and learned a lot about it, and knowing that the process she goes through from start to finish is a year-round thing for the organization," Janice Finnochio said.
Finnochio has been volunteering with her church for the past four years.
"It's good to know that the end result is it is going to people who are needy and will benefit greatly from it."
Girl Scout Troop 50556 was at the garden as well. The troop helped last year as part of their community service and decided to come again.
"We want to come back and help harvest," said Jen Akod, a parent of one of the Girl Scouts.
Girl and Boy Scout troops can now earn badges by helping at the Garden of Giving.
The Rev. Deborah Scheffey of Salem-St. Paul in Kresgeville brought her group of volunteers called the Confirmation Youth.
"We've been working with (Garden of Giving) from the beginning," Scheffey said. "We've been here every spring."
Many congregation members also volunteer on a weekly basis.
"We have an advantage to be able to purchase things we need at a grocery store," said Gretchen Laviolette, a new volunteer. "Not everybody can do. To know that we are helping to put not just food, but fresh, locally grown food on local tables is very gratifying."
"We produce more than food. We produce a community gathered together, helping our neighbors in need. We are thankful to all of our local supporters," Graeber said.
Many local businesses and groups have donated to the Garden of Giving, including Lowe's, Tractor Supply, the Girl and Boy Scout troops of America, ESSA Bank and Trust Foundation, Pocono Health Foundation, United Way, Dr. Alberta Finch Foundation, Dr. Claus G. Jordan Endowment Fund, R. Dale & Francis M. Hughes Foundation, as well as many others.
Volunteers are always needed for the Garden of Giving.
People are welcome between Tuesday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Any interested in volunteering can contact the Garden of Giving at 570-402-1282 or email@example.com.
Visit www.gardenofgiving.org for more information.