CHARLES TOWN — More than 1,600 pounds of locally grown produce found its way to area families following donations to the food pantry at Jefferson County Community Ministries.
Among the biggest givers was the Ranson Old Town Community Garden, under the direction of Bill Gregg and Judy Ashelman, which donated nearly 600 pounds of vegetables. Also, Bob Gatarz of Harpers Ferry donated more than 1,000 pounds of squash, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, cantaloupe and tomatoes from his home garden. Other area growers also brought their garden surplus to the food pantry for distribution.
The food pantry assists Jefferson County residents with a three-day supply of food.
Earlier this year, Community Ministries conducted a pilot program to help food pantry recipients create healthier, low-cost meals. Free cooking classes, conducted by the West Virginia University Extension Service, focused on stretching food dollars through a healthy, budget-minded menu plan. Graduates of these classes received such incentives as a kitchen appliance and weekly visits to the food pantry each week this summer for a supply of fresh produce donated by local gardeners. Having access to fresh food helped instill lessons learned in the cooking classes.
Now that fall has begun, Community Garden volunteers are planning a new project called a Hoop Garden. The aim of this project is to produce vegetables such as spinach, carrots, beets, kale and radishes for the food pantry during the fall and winter.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Jefferson County Community Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-725-3186.