Volunteer Spotlight

Apr 9, 2024 | by Angela Clawson

Volunteer Shares Garden Skills to Help Feed the Community

For many of us, Spring brings a renewed focus on healthy eating and the importance of having access to fresh fruits and vegetables. While many people visit a local farmers market or grocery store for fresh produce, others join a community garden or learn to grow their own. For the food insecure who live in a food desert or don’t have the space or knowledge to create their own garden, a food pantry that also offers fresh produce is a great resource.

With the help of volunteers Eddie Ford, a Master Gardener and his wife, Jocelyn, The Salvation Army Peachrest Corps and Boys & Girls Club is able to provide fresh produce from what is grown in the garden beds located behind the building in addition to nonperishable food items. Ford took over managing the Peachcrest Corps garden after the last volunteer manager, Ms. Edna, had to step away and the garden went untended. That’s when he and his wife became regular volunteers, and they’ve now been volunteering their time and resources to keep the garden thriving for the past six years.

“I’ve spent a number of years teaching young people and adults about gardening. My 70 plus years of hands-on experience and knowledge allows me to donate vegetables and fruits to the Peachcrest Corps’ food pantry and other food pantries in the area,” says Ford.

During the growing season, they donate at least 60% of what’s grown in the Peachcrest Corps garden to the food pantry. The remaining 40% is donated to other food pantries, families and seniors, as well as providing healthy foods for his own family. Throughout the summer, they also purchase and donate melons and other fruits to the food pantry as well.

Ford and his wife not only give at least 13 hours of their time each week to the garden, they also provide financial support, too. From their modest retirement funds, they purchase vegetable plants, seeds, and other supplies, and pay helpers (when needed) at a cost of approximately $1,100 each year.

In addition to helping individuals, families and seniors access healthy nutrition food, the gardens are a teaching opportunity for the members of the Peachcrest Boys & Girls Club. They are learning how to grow fruits and vegetables while also learning about the importance of those items to live a healthy lifestyle.

“We enjoy hearing from parents, seniors and others how good the mixed greens and other vegetables are,” says Ford. “It’s a joy to share different vegetables with them, especially ones they’ve never tried. We know that healthier eating will improve their health and their finances by giving them access to locally grown food. Exposing them to healthier eating that can come from vegetables grown in their own yards is a blessing to us and a contribution to the circle of life and community.”

We celebrate Eddie and Jocelyn Ford and all of our volunteers for all they do this National Volunteer Month! To learn how you can get involved, visit our Volunteer page here.


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