Coronavirus food shortages beginning … but not why you think

It’s all about money. If the processing plants’ commercial and restuarant customer base is depleted, they will sit on their hands making demand go down, even though demand has actually gone up. It’s not like oil, where demand is reflected on population movement habits and a shift in workforce behavior. We have demand in food commodities that is false. Get ready.

Texas food bank distributes over 1 million pounds of goods to 10,000 families

Virus Outbreak Texas

A Texas food bank distributed more than 1 million pounds of food to about 10,000 families, whose cars sat bumper to bumper in a parking lot for the record-setting distribution event this week amid the coronavirus crisis.
About 6,000 households preregistered on the San Antonio Food Bank’s website for Thursday’s distribution held at Trader’s Village, Food Bank president and CEO Eric Cooper told the San Antonio Express-News.
But thousands more showed up for the giveaway — and aerial photos show the parking lot chock-full of cars. Cooper called it the largest single-day distribution in the nonprofit’s 40-year history.
“It was a rough one today,” he told the Express-News. “We have never executed on as large of a demand as we are now.”

(source: https://nypost.com/2020/04/10/10k-families-gathered-at-san-antonio-food-bank-distribution-event/ )

In California: 7,000 hotel rooms ready for homeless as COVID-19 cases surge

I am Gabrielle Canon, filling in for Arline Martinez. We made it to Friday!

But first, as of Friday afternoon, there were more than 11,300 confirmed cases in California, with the most concentrated in Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous. In the Golden State, 250 people in California have already lost their lives to the virus.

But the Golden State is still lagging far behind others in how quickly it can test symptomatic residents — let along those who aren’t sick enough to qualify for a test. Public health officials expect the number of people with coronavirus is a lot higher than the test numbers indicate, and have begun cautiously recommending that anyone leaving their homes (for essential reasons only!) wear something — like a scarf or bandana — over their face so they don’t run the risk of infecting others.

Despite the surging numbers — and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s update that California’s cases are expected to continue rising with a peak in early May — there’s evidence that the fast-acting decision to issue the nation’s first statewide shelter-in-place order is helping. Here’s to staying home.

In California brings you stories and information from newsrooms across the USA TODAY Network and beyond to keep you safe and informed. Subscribe today for free delivery right to your inbox every evening M-F. 

Newsom launches Project Roomkey to house the homeless in hotels

Lisa Marie Nava, right, helps a woman taking a shower at a mobile service for the homeless provided by The Shower of Hope MacArthur Park Monday, March 23, 2020, in Los Angeles. California residents have been told to keep away from others, not gather in groups and wash their hands frequently due to threat posed by the coronavirus.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

At Newsom’s noon briefing on Friday (now a regular thing that can be watched online on the governor’s Twitter page), he announced that the state had secured roughly 7,000 hotel rooms that will be made available to the homeless. The program, which aims to obtain a total of 15,000 units in areas where large numbers of people sleep on the streets, is intended to help curb the spread of COVID-19 among this highly vulnerable community.

The rooms come complete with “essential wraparound services,” including cleaning, laundry, security and other support staff. Some areas will also benefit from a partnership with Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, which will provide three meals a day.

More than 800 people have already moved in.

“What we want to do is relieve the stress in our shelter system,” Newsom said. “If left unaddressed, we allow our most vulnerable residents in the state of California to be exposed to this virus.”

California is the first state to secure FEMA funding for such a project, and the state will be reimbursed by the federal agency for up to 75% of costs.

The Trump administration announced $3 billion Thursday for homelessness pandemic efforts. Newsom has pledged $150 million in homeless aid, including money for hotel rooms.

There are more than 150,000 homeless people in California. Advocates have been concerned and critical of how slow officials were to address the higher risks faced by the homeless population, especially in the face of closures of public libraries and other facilities, which made it even more difficult for the unhoused to access water, food, and restrooms.

Still, the National Alliance to End Homelessness praised the plan.

“Through Project Roomkey, California has taken the lead in protecting homeless residents from COVID-19,” said president Nan Roman in a statement. “This initiative sets a strong national example of how state leaders can leverage their dollars with FEMA, HUD and other federal funds to address the needs of the most vulnerable homeless populations in this crisis and protect public health.”

Here’s how to protect yourself from coronavirus scams

It’s sad to think there are people out there exploiting this emergency and preying on pandemic fears to turn a profit. But, well, sigh.

While we can’t stop scammers, are ways to be vigilant and not fall victim to online tricks. The Federal Communications Commission has shared some helpful tools and examples of what to expect, to keep you ahead of the game.

Got a call offering free home testing kits? SCAM.

Maybe a text message came in from a Department of Health and Human Services official ordering you to take a mandatory online screening test? SCAM.

Someone has called saying you need to verify your personal information to get your federal stimulus check, a loan for your small business, or student loan debt forgiveness? SCAM, SCAM, SCAM.

Report anything that seems suspicious or consult this list of tips from the Feds:

  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
  • Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
  • Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding.  Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
  • Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
  • Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.

E-sports, big cats, and one man’s attempt to vacation from home

Home security camera captures mountain lion jumping over fence at California home
San Bruno Police via Storyful

Sports events have been canceled, much to the dismay of fans now home on their couches looking for something to watch. If ever there was a moment for e-sports, it is now.

People are tuning in to watch others play video games.

Nascar drivers are now behind the wheels of virtual cars.

And now, you can even get your basketball fix with the NBA’S 2K Players Tournament. The LA Times has all the details here.

Sports not your thing? Already binge-watched Tiger King? Try looking out your window—  some Gilroy residents have spotted big cats this week. Mountain lions, to be exact. Just another reason not to leave your house.

If all else fails, here’s how The Desert Sun’s columnist Shad Powers survived a staycation.

Federal Judge rules that gun stores aren’t essential

Even as businesses shuttered across the state under Newsom’s shelter-in-place orders, lines outside gun stores could be seen wrapping around buildings. It’s not just happening in California.

As fears spiked alongside coronavirus numbers in recent weeks, Americans have purchased a record-breaking number of firearms. Federal data shows that more than 3.7 million background checks were conducted in March, shattering a more than 20-year record.

But some California county officials have cracked down on the businesses, ordering them to close. Gun rights advocates argue that they should be considered “essential” enterprises, which are exempt from the orders.

A federal judge has now officially disagreed.

U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled against Camarillo resident Donald McDougall, who filed for a temporary order blocking gun stores from closing in Ventura County, claiming that his constitutional rights had been violated by the order.

In a two-page opinion, Marshall acknowledged the importance of protecting the Second Amendment but ruled that protecting public health is a priority, writing, “the county order does not specifically target handgun ownership, does not prohibit the ownership of a handgun outright, and is temporary.”

Still, it’s not a done deal. McDougall is hoping for help from powerful pro-gun organizations.

In a separate suit, the National Rifle Association sued several California cities and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for closing gun shops during the COVID-19 response.

Two coronavirus deaths in one Sheriff’s Department

Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Terrell Young, left, and fellow Deputy David Werksman each died on Thursday, April 2, 2020, after they contracted the coronavirus, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

On Friday morning, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department shared tragic news — a second deputy has died after getting coronavirus.

Deputy David Werksman was 51 years old and had devoted 22 years to serving his community. Described as kind and always willing to help, department leaders said the department is reeling from the second loss of the week. On Thursday, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced that Deputy Terrell Young had died from the virus.

“I’m seriously heartbroken,” Bianco said during an afternoon news conference outside the sheriff’s department in Riverside. “We are reeling from the reality that this virus has taken the lives of two of our family members in the past 24 hours. Our hearts and our prayers go out to Deputy Werksman’s and Deputy Young’s families.”

Newsom shared that Santa Rosa Police Department Det. Marylou Armer was the first line of duty death of a police officer in California associated with COVID-19. She was 44.

“Jennifer and I are terribly saddened to learn of Detective Armer’s untimely death. Amid the current fight against COVID-19, Detective Armer selflessly and courageously served her community and the people of California,” Newsom said in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and members of the Santa Rosa community as they mourn her loss.”

The flags are being flown at half-staff to honor her.

That’s it from me tonight. Hope you all stay safe and #STAYHOME this weekend.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Press Democrat, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian. 

Run Out of Food? Coronavirus Has Revealed The Fragility Of Global Food Systems

Toilet paper shortagesprofiteering from hand sanitiser and empty shelves in supermarkets.

Thanks to Covid-19, governments in most industrialised nations are preparing for shortages of life’s necessities. If they fail, riots over food may be inevitable. Some wonder if we are responding appropriately to Covid-19, and it’s clear that recent events expose a fundamental flaw in the global systems that bring us our daily bread.

We live in a wondrous age when global supply chains seamlessly link farmers and consumers using the principles of ‘just enough, just in time’. For years, companies have worked hard to keep inventories low, timing shipments to balance supply and demand using knife-edge accuracy.

In many ways, this system is a miracle. Low-cost food is one outcome. And if there’s a problem in one part of the supply chain, the global system is good at finding alternatives. (Mangoes from Asia gone bad? Try the mangoes from Central America!)

But with this abundance—and convenience—comes a hidden cost that Covid-19 has exposed: a loss of resilience. Our global food system depends on the tendrils of international trade to wrap the world in an ever more complex system of buyers, sellers, processors and retailers, all of whom are motivated to keep costs low and operations lean.

So when the supply-chain system itself is thrown into question—as it is now thanks to Covid-19—then the wheels threaten to come off the proverbial apple cart. Covid-19 shows that we need to wake up and realise that if we really want to be resilient, we need to build more redundancies, buffers and firewalls into the systems we depend on for life.

In practical terms, this means we should be keeping larger inventories and promoting a greater degree of regional self-sufficiency.

These measures will help ensure that our communities don’t panic if the food deliveries stop.

But while this may sound sensible, high inventories and more regional self-sufficiency are, in fact, antithetical to the ‘just enough, just in time’ approach that drives most of our economy, even though no one’s suggesting we need to be completely self-sufficient all of the time.

Take the systems that produce and distribute the corn, wheat and rice that fuel most of humanity’s calories. The latest United Nations report on the global grain system contains some bad news. Last year, the world ate more grains than it produced within the year, and our carryover stocks (defined as the amount of food we have, globally, at the end of the year to see us through to the next harvest) are declining.

The good news is that this decline comes after a run of good years in which farmers delivered one monumental harvest after another. So our carryover stocks started last year in pretty good shape and this means we’ve currently got about four months of food stored. But there’s a downward trend regarding those stockpiles, and this is worrisome.

But what if Mother Nature doesn’t play nice with us this year?

Climate change, after all, is making food harder to produce. What if we face a major drought in Europe and Asia like we did in 2010 to 2011? Or another big drought in America’s Midwest similar to the situation in 2012 and 2013? And what if Covid-19 doesn’t go away by summer?

If any of these things happen, we may not have the buffers to protect ourselves. And it won’t be toilet paper and hand sanitiser we need to worry about. It might be wheat, rice and corn.

Today, conventional wisdom is that the average city in North America has a three-day supply of fresh food (dried, canned and other preserved food supplies will last a bit longer). This, according to some, means that we are all only ever ‘nine meals from anarchy’. Luckily, North American supermarkets have sophisticated supply chains, so no one is seriously suggesting that the panicked purchasing of the last few days that has emptied shelves will persist. Nevertheless, the systems we depend upon are, in many ways, fragile and inherently vulnerable.

In all likelihood, Covid-19 will pass and most of us will only suffer economic setbacks from lost wages and disruptions linked with cancelled classes, travel and meetings. But in the aftermath, it’s important to ask whether we—as a society—will treat this as a moment to learn a bit about the fragility of the modern world.

Will we work collectively to put resilience alongside efficiency as a primary driver for the systems we depend on each and every day to feed ourselves?

Evan Fraser is a professor, director of the Arrell Food Institute and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

This article appeared at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

How to grow food in an apartment or condo

(Taylor Logan/CBC)

A few months ago, my roommate Alex and I had a revelation. As we were hauling overfilled bags of trash down the hall to the disposal for the third time that week, it hit us: How were four people producing this much garbage?
Our three-bedroom apartment west of Toronto had no compost bin. Our kitchen blue bins were often overflowing with recycling, but it made little difference to the amount of trash. Single-use plastic made up a large part of our weekly garbage run and a lot of it came from packaging for produce. We decided to begin growing our own food.
Most people think that cultivating a garden in an apartment is impossible, especially being eight floors up. Some buildings have strict rules — ours says you can’t hang things off the balcony. But finding workarounds was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.
We started by creating our own vermicompost bin, which uses worms to compost food scraps. But we quickly realized how much fertilizer the worms were producing. We considered dumping it in a local forest or the flower beds outside our apartment, but decided instead to create a garden of our own.
We ran out to the store the next day, filling our cart with seeds, small compostable pots and a shovel. We began with 10 seed-filled pots sitting on our kitchen windowsill, which we watered every day with a spray bottle. We killed four within the week, but we replanted and adjusted. From over-watering to too much sun, we had to watch our emerging plants like hawks.
Within three weeks, we had 10 little seedlings, including lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, snap peas, mint, basil, a dwarf sunflower … as well as catnip for our feline friend, Dave.
Never having had much of a green thumb, my roommate and I had plenty of pots from previously owned (and accidentally killed) house plants. This proved beneficial around three weeks later. The plants had become too big and needed to be transferred to new homes.
Soon, we were obsessed. With the leftover pots, we planted more. Some wildflowers for the bees, another sunflower. We even started to plant and regrow the vegetables we were buying from the store.
We moved the plants outdoors the weekend after Victoria Day, putting them in metal and compostable planters hanging on the inside of our balcony. A few weeks later, we bought a wooden ladder and hung pots from it for the flowers. Thirteen weeks after we first had the idea, our once-empty balcony was filled with blooming life.
Soon, the benefits of our garden will be reaped and we will have delicious, fresh food — with no waste in sight.
An apartment garden cheat sheet:
Use the space to your advantage. If you have a balcony, hang planters. If you have a large enough windowsill, keep your plants there. Consider vertical planters to conserve space. Be creative.
If you don’t have enough lighting or lack a balcony, consider using grow lights for minigreenhouses.
If you lack the funds for such equipment, grow veggies that thrive in shady areas (e.g. lettuce, carrots, garlic, potatoes).
For overly sunny apartments, grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans and corn.
Watch how your plants grow. If they’re wilting, water them. If they start to lose their colour, give them more light. To grow a successful garden, you have to pay attention to what your plants are saying to you.  (source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/what-on-earth-newsletter-garden-growing-climate-change-cartoon-1.5192851 )

Grow Your Garden With Only a Little Green

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Gardens can take many shapes — expansive beds of seasonal vegetables, decorative plants stuffed into an apartment, a shelf of herbs growing near a kitchen window.

Whatever the configuration, the fundamentals are the same: seeds, soil, care — and cash.

That last ingredient can be the hardest to come by. But no matter how ambitious your garden plans, you can control costs at each step.

Make a plan

Know what you want out of your garden and what you can afford before heading to a store.

“First step for a budget garden would be determining what your top priorities are,” says Ben Bowen, a Portland, Oregon, landscape designer. “Are you creating a space that needs to look good? Or is there some function like growing food or creating a gathering space?”

Once you determine the space’s purpose, then list each plant, pot and garden tool you would need.

Dream big, then come back to reality. Take a look at your budget to see what you can actually afford. A simple guide is the 50/30/20 budget, where half of your income goes to needs such as housing, 30% goes to wants and the final 20% goes into savings.

Your garden budget will likely come from the wants category, even though it might help you trim grocery spending.

You may be tempted to buy everything at once, but assembling your garden over time could help keep your spending in check. Building and planting a robust vegetable garden bed, for example, could cost upward of $500, depending on the size and complexity, Bowen says.

Shop smart

If you’re feeling sticker shock from that $500 figure, know that you can trim costs for your shopping list. You’ll have to put in a bit more effort, but the resulting savings can be significant.

Here’s a breakdown of shopping categories and how to cut costs for each:

Plants

FOR GARDEN VEGETABLES

Go for seeds over starts. While starts, or plants that have been partially grown already, are an easy way to kick-start your garden, they can be expensive.

For example, some vegetable starts cost close to $5 for one plant, but you can get a packet of seeds to produce many plants for less than $2. Start your seeds early enough so they’ll bear fruit during the peak growing season.

For starts, local nurseries may be the best value. They’ll often have plants grown on-site that are acclimated to your local climate. These can be hardier and easier to grow compared with starts shipped in and sold at chain stores, says gardener Kate Formichella, owner of Cape Cod, Massachusetts-based Flora Chella Design.

FOR DECORATIVE PLANTS

Think nearby here, too. Many local nonprofits have sales of native or easy-to-grow plants, often for just a few dollars. You can also get cuttings from friends for free; this is often easiest with succulents.

Soil

For something that’s everywhere, soil can get expensive fast. To cut costs, again check local resources. Farms and even landfills often have quality soil and compost they’re willing to give away, or sell and deliver for less than what you’d pay for bags at a chain store.

Gardening hardware

Garden hardware includes pots, shovels and hoses. Buying new gets expensive.

But there are sources of durable used supplies. Estate sales are one of the best spots to pick up cheap tools, Formichella says.

“Forget what’s inside the house at an estate sale and go right for the garage,” she says. “You’ll find shovels that are $1 or $2, and often they have durable ash wood handles. The tools you’ll find might be 40 or 50 years old and they’re hardy.”

Thrift stores are a good resource for pots, she says. If you’re doing most of your gardening inside an apartment and need a lot of containers, buying secondhand can mean big savings.

Be patient

A plant can take months to produce flowers or fruit. Likewise, ambitious plans for an outdoor garden lush with native plants or a chic indoor display will take some time to come together.

Assemble one piece of your garden at a time and consider holding off on some purchases until they’re more affordable. Some plants are cheaper once they’re out of peak season, and outdoor furniture to complement your new greenery will be less expensive in the fall. Focus on your priorities and play the long game. There’s always next summer.

( https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/grow-garden-little-green/ )

The cost of growing your own food

Initial investment in gardening is, however, worth the price in the long term
By Catherine Whitnall
Growing your own food - 2As part of a three-part series on food security, reporter Catherine Whitnall wrote last week about the cost of eating when using the new Canada Food Guide. This week, she looks at the cost of growing your own food.
Before the advent of grocery stores and markets, people really had no choice but to grow their own food.
In the past decade, though, a growing number of people have been turning back to the land to supplement their grocery shopping.
For some, it gives them peace of mind knowing where and how their produce is grown. For some, it’s a way of reducing their grocery bill. For many, it’s a combination of both.
In the grand scheme of things, it makes sense.
“The big difference is that we know what’s in that plant and where it comes from,” said ecosteward Robbie Preston.
For those looking to garden at home, it’s a good idea to do a bit of math and research before committing, say Preston and fellow ecosteward Judy Kennedy.
The first thing is to check what is “readily available.”
“You need to look where the sun is going to be for the best part of the day,” said Preston, citing logic. “Plants don’t grow very well in the shade.”
The next step is to “stick a shovel in the ground and see what’s there.”
Soil that has a high clay or sand component isn’t terribly conducive to growing.
“If you don’t have good soil, nothing will grow,” he said, logically.
The best idea, adds Kennedy, is to construct garden beds instead.
This is where the math comes into play.
“A four-by-eight (foot) area is totally serviceable,” said Kennedy, noting it’s not so wide that the plants can’t be reached by hand.
Many people make the mistake of constructing gardens that are too wide, resulting in having to physically walk into the growing area — which can be detrimental unless pathways are included — which is a waste of growing area.
Frame and raised bed gardens also offer the advantage of heating up faster than the ground, boosting grow time, added Kennedy.
Ideally, the frames should be constructed by rough cedar. Most lumber supply businesses sell the boards, but people can save a few dollars by purchasing from area sawmills. Not only does cedar last longer — up to 10 years versus three years with pine or spruce, according to Preston — but slugs won’t crawl up the wood.
Cedar is a little more expensive than pine or spruce, though. Constructing one very basic cedar garden bed — not including screws — would cost and average of roughly $60 versus $35. Never use pressure treated wood, as the chemicals will leach into the garden.
The big cost comes in filling the beds.
Buying a good triple-mix soil from a local retailer to fill one garden bed could cost as much as $170. A bag of coir (coconut fibre) or peat moss would add roughly $8. Some of this cost can be reduced if the natural soil is decent for growing, as it can be partly blended with the triple mix.
The upside is that once the bed is filled, it only needs to be topped up in subsequent years.
“Every two years you will have to add about 15 per cent more,” said Kennedy.
Both Preston and Kennedy agree that natural products are the way to go.
“They can be a little more costly, but they work so much better and are better for the environment,” said Kennedy, who uses coir, which is better than peat moss for its slow-release properties and is renewable.
While it is more convenient to visit a greenhouse or retailer to buy plants, Kennedy prefers to use seeds.
“They may take longer, but they’re cheaper and they’re not sprayed with neonics that are hazardous to bees,” said Preston, noting Ontario Seed Company products are best as they have already been climatized. “You also know what you’re getting.”
Kennedy adds a few dollars in seeds can potentially yield 100 plants. She generally starts her seeds in containers in her home, using recycled fruit containers since they have openings for oxygen and work like greenhouses when closed. The only thing she adds, other than water, is a little vermiculite for extra nutrient support.
Those looking to start gardens can also access area Seed Savers Collectives such as the seed library operated by the Nourish and Development Foundation in Cannington.
The seed library provides “free and easy access to viable seeds so that as many people as possible are growing their own organic food and to encourage and enable people to save seeds through awareness, education, and community celebrations aimed at reviving seed saving culture.” Seeds are available at all three Brock Township public libraries.
Anyone with a Brock library card can take seeds for free to plant in their garden and, in return, save some seeds to bring back to the library for other community members to use. Seed libraries focus on lending organic, native, heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. Seeds returned from successful plants help grow Nourish’s collection and help cultivate seed stocks best suited to the local climate and promote seed sovereignty.
When it comes to planting, Kennedy recommends creating one-foot square “patches” that can be plotted out using chalk line or heavy string, available at most dollar stores. People should keep a diagram of what they’ve planted so they can “rotate” their crops as not all plants use the same nutrients from the soil and actually give something back.
“So one essentially makes food for the other,” said Kennedy.
She is also a big fan of companion planting, which can help with pest control, pollination, provide a habitat for beneficial creatures, maximize use of space and increase crop productivity.
For example, onions grow well beside beets, carrots, Swiss chard and lettuce, but not beans or peas. Peas grow well with carrots, cucumbers and radishes, but not garlic or onions. Potatoes like beans, corn and peas, but not tomatoes.
While it’s nice to be able to “walk outside and five minutes later it’s in the pot,” Kennedy notes her four garden beds produce more fruits and vegetables than she actually needs, saving her hundreds of dollars each year. Her basement still holds a variety of canned and preserved items from last year’s harvest.
“I’d have to say it cuts our grocery bill by at least 50 per cent, if not more,” said Kennedy.
All she needs is a few chickens and a cow … but that’s a whole other story.

(source: https://www.mykawartha.com/community-story/9272791-the-cost-of-growing-your-own-food/ )

Community garden offers free, healthy food to neighbors

Daniel Carson Fremont News-Messenger
Published 5:01 PM EDT Sep 25, 2018

Roger Hart of Micah House grows a community garden on May Street in Fremont to feed healthy vegetables to neighborhood residents for free. Molly Corfman/The News-Messenger
FREMONT – From the May Street Community Garden’s 14 raised wooden garden boxes built on a small, previously abandoned lot, neighborhood residents can take their pick of free broccoli, green beans, eggplant, red potatoes and nine varieties of peppers.

It’s the brainchild of Roger Hart, director of the nonprofit Micah House, on the opposite side of May Street.

As Hart talked about the community garden Monday, May Street resident Ezekiel Jones walked up and asked if there were any banana peppers left.

Roger Hart of Micah House grows a community garden on May Street in Fremont to feed healthy vegetables to neighborhood residents for free. Molly Corfman/The News-Messenger
When Hart began working on his community project earlier this year, Jones acknowledged he wasn’t sure if the garden would be a hit with residents or survive the foraging of wild animals.

“But it’s working out,” Jones said, as he filled a white container with a couple handfuls of banana peppers.

Hart purchased the 120-by-30-foot May Street lot, located at 520 May Street, from the Sandusky County Land Bank last year.

A deadly fire occurred in 2013 in a house on the lot where the garden is now located.

Brenda Shorty, 42, and her 2-year-old daughter, Vinesha Darden, died in the November 2013 May Street house fire.

In 2016, the city tore down the abandoned, fire-damaged house.

Roger Hart of Micah House grows a community garden on May Street in Fremont to feed healthy vegetables to neighborhood residents for free. Molly Corfman/The News-Messenger

Hart said the lot had been up for sheriff’s sale, but it didn’t sell. He said he approached the county land bank about the property and purchased it last fall.

This spring, Hart began work on building the community garden.

Seven different sponsors donated $150 apiece for soil and wood used for the 4-by-8-foot garden boxes.

After building the boxes at home, Hart brought them to May Street in April and began filling them with soil.

He received a donation of 10 yards of horse manure and combined it with 10 yards of compost to make soil for the garden boxes.

More: It’s ready, set, grow for Vanguard Community Garden

More: Community garden being built in Fremont

Hart planted various vegetables, fruits, and herbs in the boxes.

Through word-of-mouth, neighborhood residents learned about the garden and initially went to Micah House to pick out food to take home.

Roger Hart of Micah House grows 9 types of peppers for May Street neighborhood residents, including jalepeno, from left, sweet banana, cayenne, anaheim chile and serrano. Molly Corfman/The News-Messenger

In the last month or so, neighbors have come to the garden and started picking their own herbs, fruits and vegetables, Hart said, including basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red-hot ghost peppers.

“The response in the neighborhood has been very good,” Hart said.

Some neighbors have already asked Hart to plant collard greens.

Hart said he’s open to suggestions on what to plant and plans to add between six and eight additional garden boxes to the May Street garden.

He said he wants to poll neighbors next year before he plants to find out what worked and what new fruits and vegetables residents would like to see growing in 2019.

dacarson@gannett.com

419-334-1046

Twitter: @DanielCarson7
(Source: https://eu.thenews-messenger.com/story/news/local/2018/09/25/may-street-community-garden-grows-free-healthy-food-neighborhood/1410655002/ )

Valdosta garden brings healthy food to local families


By: Emma Wheeler
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) — Fruits and vegetables are growing tall at the Southside Community Garden and allowing community members to grow together.
The garden was started by Living Bridges Ministry. From the dirt to the plate, Valdosta families are able to try out their green thumbs.
“Anything you can harvest out of a garden is certainly fresher and a little healthier,” said Living Bridges Ministry Founder Darcy Gunter. “It’s a good family project as well. Every time the kids come out we try to get them involved, get them something to do, they can water, they can plant and harvest some of the things.”
The project is free and open for anyone to participate. Families can help out with the gardening and can then take home the harvest.
Tangilar and Myracle McLowery said they enjoy coming out and volunteering with the garden.
“I just thought it would be a learning experience for both of us. We’re learning but we’re also bonding, doing things together, family time,” McLowery said. “We love to do community things. This is a better way to get to know your community.”
The garden provides lessons for all ages, filling both plates and souls.
“If we can educate them further on what to do with it, they’ll be eating better in the long run,” Gunter said.
This is the first summer the garden is open. Organizers hope to eventually open up a produce stand to help create jobs, as well as healthy foods.
The group meets on Thursday mornings. (Source.  http://www.wctv.tv/content/news/Valdosta-garden-brings-healthy-food-to-local-families-487614901.html )