Food Bank garden program seeks volunteers, produce donations
Program on track to collect 155,000 pounds this season to feed hungry people in the Ozarks
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In her spare time, Karla Carroll enjoys harvesting vegetables, planting seeds and picking weeds at Ozarks Food Harvest’s garden in Rogersville. She likes giving her time to help others and has been a regular volunteer with the garden program since it started in 2014.
“The best part of volunteering in the gardens has been just knowing that you’re doing something good for the community – that people are going to have these fresh vegetables and be able to enjoy them,” Carroll said.
Ozarks Food Harvest began its third season of the Full Circle Gardens program in March and is projected to have a record-breaking year. The mission of the program is to harvest local, sustainably-grown produce to distribute to people in need. The produce is gleaned from OFH’s garden in Rogersville, area farms, community gardens and home gardens.
So far this season over 70,400 pounds of nutritious, locally-grown produce has been provided to children, families and seniors in need of food assistance. The Food Bank is on track to harvest and receive 155,000 pounds of produce, almost 65,000 pounds more than last season. But to accomplish that goal, Ozarks Food Harvest is asking for more volunteers.
“The Full Circle Gardens program is a big step in the direction of solving food insecurity by localizing food production, encouraging socioeconomic development and improving food access,” said Christy Claybaker, community engagement coordinator for Ozarks Food Harvest. “As we head into the summer and fall harvests, volunteer support is more important than ever. We are on track to potentially double our impact this year, but cannot do this without our volunteer gleaners and gardeners, as well as partner farms and gardens.”
In addition to growing its own produce in raised beds and high tunnels at the garden in Rogersville, Ozarks Food Harvest partners with area farmers to help glean surplus produce that might otherwise go to waste.
“It’s also important to acknowledge the role each small backyard gardener plays in this program. Planting a row for the hungry is very easy to do,” Claybaker said. “We do accept and appreciate walk-in produce donations at The Food Bank. There are many families who will very much appreciate your nutrient-dense, locally-grown produce.”
Food Bank staff encourage community members to find a way they can participate in the Full Circle Gardens program by visiting ozarksfoodharvest.org/gardens and sharing OFH’s new video featuring its garden in Rogersville on social media.
Carroll said she enjoys volunteering in the garden because she can help people in need and meet new friends. She said, “I have met some of the nicest, most interesting people out here. It’s always a joy to come out and work with them.”
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About Ozarks Food Harvest — The Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, serving more than 200 organizations across 28 Ozarks counties. The Food Bank provides 14.6 million meals annually to more than 260,000 unduplicated individuals. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org, facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest or twitter.com/ozksfoodharvest.