AP NEWS

Volunteers raise vegetables for North Dakota food pantry

July 1, 2019
Sharyl Roth, Minot, was among those who volunteered this past week to assist with raising vegetables destined for the Lord's Cupboard Food Pantry. "It's a wonderful, wonderful blessing for the food pantry." That was the response from Roth, when asked about a unique gardening project north of here. Roth was one of several volunteers who were weeding and working this past week in gardens where new plants were starting to emerge. (Kim Fundingsland/Minot Daily News via AP)

VELVA, N.D. (AP) — “It’s a wonderful, wonderful blessing for the food pantry.”

That was the response from Sharyl Roth, of Minot, when asked about a unique gardening project north of here. Roth was one of several volunteers who were weeding and working this past week in gardens where new plants were starting to emerge.

“It’s really a blessing that Duane has put up these raised gardens and having us at the food pantry getting the produce from it,” Roth said.

Duane is Duane Brekke of Minot, former operator of a cattle operation on land homesteaded by his grandfather. The food pantry is The Lord’s Cupboard of Minot, which supplies hundreds of needy families with food they would otherwise not have. This is the first year The Lord’s Cupboard has delved into growing its own vegetables to help meet ever increasing demand to help put food on the table for those in need. Brekke said it didn’t take long for him to realize the importance of the work being done by the dedicated crew at The Lord’s Cupboard.

“I went to the Lord’s Cupboard and observed them a couple of days,” Brekke told the Minot Daily News . “I looked at the people there and they really needed it. I was so impressed. ”

Brekke built the raised gardens a few years ago, mostly as a hobby endeavor. He donated nearly 1,000 pounds of vegetables to The Lord’s Cupboard last year.

“After visiting with Pastor Roise — he’s fabulous — I decided to donate these gardens. I don’t need any of it,” said Brekke while pulling a few weeds growing near a tomato plant. “Isn’t it fun to see all these workers? This is a fun thing for me.”

Others were having fun too, getting a sense of gratification that comes from doing something meaningful for others. Among those pulling weeds and using a small rake to cultivate the gardens was Pastor Gerald Roise of Minot’s Bethany Lutheran Church. He’s been actively involved with The Lord’s Cupboard and is excited about the gardens and the prospect of helping many families put food on their tables.

“This is just a blessing to have a garden like this,” remarked Roise. “We’re feeding people that need it with good food, healthy food. It feels so good to help others and realize you have so much to be thankful for.”

Nearby, Cheri Witmer, of Velva, was carefully pulling weeds that were encroaching on emerging carrots. With fewer weeds to compete against for moisture and sunshine, the carrots and other vegetables have a better chance of producing a healthy crop in what has generally been a slow start to the growing season.

“To me this is awesome,” said Witmer. “An untold amount of people will be feasting on this food.”

The first radishes were pulled from the soil this past week, a promising indicator of a harvest yet to come. Tomatoes, carrots, beets, peas, cucumbers, squash and more have been planted at the gardens. Some of the plants were donated by Lowe’s Garden of Minot. If all goes well throughout the growing season, the gardens should yield an abundance of fresh vegetables that will help meet the demand for food at The Lord’s Cupboard.

Garden volunteers assemble each Tuesday and Thursday morning at Bethany Lutheran Church. Earlier this month, 10 people volunteered for what was a very enjoyable two-hour session at the gardens. Having raised gardens to work on means no stress on the knees or back, no bending or stooping or repeatedly getting up off the ground. There’s also the friendly camaraderie among volunteers that enlivens the minutes of attention given to the fledgling plants.

“The volunteers get fed emotionally, spiritually and psychologically by being able to come out here and enjoy being outside and doing what they love,” Roise remarked.

Roise stressed that the project is open to volunteers from Minot and beyond. Volunteering is as easy as making a phone call or texting a message to 721-0839. Volunteers can choose which Tuesday or Thursday they are available to assist. It is expected volunteer help for weeding, cultivating and harvesting will be needed through August.

“We are called upon to be servants. How you play that out in so many different ways is huge,” Roise said. “We have members from six to eight churches right now. That’s what is cool about it. This is not a Lutheran project or one particular church project. It’s everybody in the community and beyond. If you have a passion to help others, this would be a project you can help with.”

Like all gardens, some attention is required to ensure that the vegetables have every opportunity to produce as expected. The early challenge is keeping weeds that threaten to overwhelm preferred plants.

“It’s therapy for all of us, seeing God’s gift of life. The only problem is, he made weeds for us,” said Roise with a laugh while carefully turning soil in the garden.

When the volunteers this past week began their time at the gardens, many of the young plants were obscured by weeds attempting to dominate the soil. A short while later, after volunteers had pulled countless weeds, the scene changed to one of visible rows of desired vegetable plants. It won’t be long before those plants mature and the harvesting will begin.

___

Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.