Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
June 5, 2011
Dominique Perkins, for the Daily Facts
AmeriCorps teamed up with Helping Hands Pantry in Redlands to host a community day on Saturday to raise awareness and plant a new Victory Garden on Judson Street. Community members helped weed rows and plant vegetables.
“The garden’s going to be beautiful in a few weeks,” said McKenna Collins, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member and project outlet liaison for the event.
Her team has been in the San Bernardino area for three weeks, and will be working with Helping Hands Pantry until July 13.
AmeriCorps is a full-time, 10-month program, Collins said.
Young adults who are from 18 to 24 years old can sign up and join teams, volunteer their time, travel and partner with local organizations wherever there is a need.
Helping Hands Pantry has about 150 volunteers, and distributes food six days a week to anyone in need, Executive Director Paul Dickau said.
A few years ago, they decided to start growing organic “top quality food items” to give away, he said.
This is the second food garden Helping Hands Pantry has started. The other, on Chestnut Avenue, has been operating for about three years, and produces tomatoes in the summer and broccoli in the winter, Dickau said.
A larger variety of plants are going into the Judson garden to start with, Dickau said.
Volunteers planted sweet potatoes, beets, Swiss chard, summer and winter squash, sweet and hot peppers and cucumbers.
“We want to see what does really well here,” Dickau said.
Eventually he expects they will devote the space to just two or three products.
The property for the garden was originally an egg farm, and was donated to Helping Hands Pantry by Richard Cover, who used to operate a boys home in the house attached to the property. The original underground egg house is still there.
Helping Hands Volunteers can adopt a day, and then each week on that day, they will come and check on the garden, harvest ripe produce and drop it off at collecting points, where it is distributed the next morning.
Dickau said that there aren’t many people who spend more than three hours per week working on the gardens.
“It’s a lot of people coming together, doing what they can — that has an impact on so many lives,” Dickau said.
Helping Hands Party serves between 5,000 and 7,0000 people each week, Dickau said.
Collins planned the community day for the Judson garden, and she and her team put up posters and went door-to-door handing out flyers.
Tammie Viehmann found out about the community day from a flyer. She was excited to get involved, planting beets and Swiss chard.
“I think this is really important,” she said. “You’re always going to have people who need food.”
Serrano’s Nursery donated all of the plants, and many different churches, youth groups, schools and charity organizations have donated their time preparing and planting the garden.
“It’s been amazing how many different groups have come together to do this,” Dickau said.
©2011 Redlands Daily Facts. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.