The Lehigh Acres Edible Gardening Exchange has selected Our Daily Bread Pantry Vegetable Garden, at 1418 Homestead Road N., in Lehigh Acres, as the garden of the month for February because of its success as a volunteered-driven dream that transformed a plain backyard into a renewable food resource for the pantry.
Once upon a time, back in July of 2011, there lived a fair maiden and a small group of very eager community volunteers who had a dream of starting a neighborhood edible garden. They searched high and low for a plot of land in the fiefdom of "Volunteerlandia" in Lehigh Acres that could sustain such a regal project.
This merry band of growers met in different locales looking for that perfect fenced-in plot; to keep out dragons of course. No dames or knights in shining amour could have foreseen the many questions that surfaced during the Round Table sessions. "Do we need a county permit? Can ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) help? Perhaps Ace, Home Depot or Lowes can donate plants? Who will start seedlings? How will we get the mulch and compost carted? Who would weed? Did she say manure?" queried these anxious amateur gardeners.
Our Daily Bread Pantry on Homestead Road laid claim to a parcel of land fit for the fair maiden's dream. Jane Mullikin, the very dedicated "Duchess" who ran the pantry, suggested that we utilize the property to harvest food for the needy. Trumpets blared and the royal request was sent out calling all ready and able volunteers to the task.
In all kingdoms, the lifeline of any community is our volunteers, albeit at times temporary; hospitals, assistive living facilities, schools, libraries, recreation centers, institutions of worship, and food pantries cannot do without. It is our mission to recognize and thank these noble beings for creating, developing, caring and maintaining Our Daily Bread Pantry Vegetable Garden. The volunteers that made this edible garden possible are: Jane; Karen H.; EJ; Art; Enrique; Bertha; Lloyd; Ora; Flora; Virginia; Cherif; The Boy Scouts; Roberto; David; Richard; Bueno; Hoover and the many others are the honorable mentions who have worked so hard to Once Upon a Time in Volunteerlandia to make this dream a reality.
And because of their commitment of paying it forward in Volunteerlandia, the following seedlings have sprouted at Our Daily Bread Pantry Vegetable Garden: carrots, beets, cabbage, swiss chard, collard and mustard greens, cantaloupes, watermelons, potatoes, celery, green onions, cilantro, turnips, sweet peas, yellow squash, cucumbers, radishes,banana peppers, cubano peppers, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, pineapples, cranberry hibiscus, aloe, seminole pumpkin, broccoli, eggplants, lettuce; basil and oregano.
Our Daily Bread Pantry Vegetable Garden needs you. It is in constant need of volunteers to deliver mulch, construct vegetable beds, water plants, pull weeds, etc. Play it forward and see it harvest ever after. Become a volunteer by visiting any Saturday morning between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. Or contact Karen Balch, the queen of volunteers at 239-745-2247, should you need more information.
The Lehigh Acres Edible Gardening Exchange meets every third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at Veterans Park Community Center, at 55 Homestead Rd S, Lehigh Acres, and for more information about the Lehigh Acres Edible Garden Exchange email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-206-3373.
Lillian Nieves is a member of the Lehigh Acres Edible Gardening Exchange.