Community comes together to grow vegetables at donated plot.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — You know how when you pull sugar snap peas from the vine and eat them, it’s as sweet and refreshing as can be?
Brian Van Voorhis does. Van Voorhis is one of the organizers of a new community garden located on a plot of land behind the Wake Forest Baptist Church office on South Avenue.
The church helped to get the initiative going, and much of the goodies grown there are being donated to local food pantries, but anyone can join up to help.
“We started this last fall,” Van Voorhis said at the garden Saturday, while a half dozen people hoed the soil, picked ripened vegetables, weeded and pruned in the background. “This is our first spring crop.”
In the fall, they harvested squash, lettuce, turnips, mustard greens and other greens.
And potatoes. They harvested almost 300 pounds of potatoes last fall.
The biggest project after launching was to build a sturdy deer fence with wires on top. They’re not electrified, but it somewhat resembles a stockade, albeit one designed to keep troublemakers out, not in.
“We called it a Stalag for a while,” joked Van Voorhis.
They’ve also had an issue with groundhogs.
Crows making a racket Saturday left some wondering out loud if they didn’t need a scarecrow for the corn.
“There is a lot of really good people in Wake Forest,” said Van Voorhis. “They want to give something to the community and also want to get out and meet people. The main thing that drives most people is raising local food for local people.”
One of those is Becky Johnson, not a member at Wake Forest Baptist Church.
She was in town to run an errand the same day as the April 5 Dirt Day festival. She stopped to check it out and ran across the community garden booth.
“When I saw all that was going on, it just blessed my heart. I felt like I was home,” she said.
She’s a country gal at heart and raises chickens and bees, but has “never had a garden produce like this.”
The current crop includes pole beans, lima beans, corn, okra, squash, cucumbers, onions, radishes and snap peas. Tomatoes are being grown in smaller cages designed to stimulate vine growth.
When harvested, some of the food will go to the church, which partners with a food shuttle to do giveaways for the hungry on a monthly basis. The freshest food gets snagged first, according to Gene Cross.
“It’s important to us that somebody here locally gets that food,” he said.
The harvests also go to other area pantries. A little goes home with the growers, as well.
Other crops will be added and rotated and they expect a beehive to be added soon too, to manufacture their own honey. What changes may come are unknown. Nothing is set in stone, other than the volunteers’ desire to not let the field go fallow.
Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. — Psalm 67:5