Garden yields fresh vegetables for Lord’s Cupboard food pantry

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Volunteers search through vines for cucumbers ready to be picked. The first-year gardens are providing fresh produce for the Lord’s Cupboard food pantry of Minot.

It’s a first year project yielding some terrific results. Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, beets and radishes are among the abundant vegetables being harvested at several raised gardens located near Velva.

The fresh produce is taken to the Lord’s Cupboard food pantry in Minot where it is distributed to families in need. Over 100 pounds of produce was collected in the first picking and, from all appearances, the first year garden is set to yield considerably more fresh vegetables in the days and weeks ahead.

“We are overwhelmed by the ability of vegetables to grow out here. Its been amazing,” said Pastor Gerald Roise while pruning a towering tomato plant laden with fruit. “The growth of the plants and the growth of the amount of people interested in this has been huge. That’s really been a blessing to all of us that have been working on this. It’s a dream come true.”

On Tuesday morning a group of dedicated volunteers departed Minot for the short trip to the Velva area to spend a couple of hours working in the gardens, a series of long, raised beds that eliminate the need for bending and stooping.

Duane Brekke, Minot, owner of the land on which the gardens are located, was among those tending to the growing crop of vegetables on Tuesday.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Inside the Lord’s Cupboard food pantry, Pastor Gerald Roise checks the weight of cucumbers picked Tuesday. Volunteers have just begun harvesting various vegetables from raised gardens located near Velva.

“I can’t believe the number of workers. It just does my heart good to see this,” remarked Brekke while watching eager volunteers harvest cucumbers and trim excess growth from tomato plants. “These volunteers just love to do good for other people. It’s the best.”

“The volunteers have been awesome,” agreed Roise. “We’ve asked for 10 volunteers each time we come out here and that’s exactly what happens.”

To date the volunteer work in the gardens has been scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday mornings. However, with several people indicating a willingness to help but unable to do so due to work commitments at those times, an evening session for volunteers has been set up for Thursdays. Anyone interested in helping at the gardens, for any shift, is encouraged to call or text 721-0839.

This past Tuesday saw several flats of tomatoes picked along with several pails of cucumbers. All were taken to the Lord’s Cupboard on Burdick Expressway west for distribution.

While looking over the tomato plants teeming with fruits of all sizes and stages of development, Brekke stated, “I’m willing to bet you there’s not a better crop of tomatoes anywhere in the U.S.”

No one disagreed with him. If the progress of growth continues the plants will supply hundreds of pounds of fresh tomatoes for the Lord’s Cupboard. There’s other plants starting to mature too, cabbage and cantaloupe among them.

“We do this because we believe God calls us to do it,” said Roise. “When we all pitch in and do it together it makes a huge difference.”

A growing number of businesses have been eager to donate dollars and product so the gardens can be expanded for next year. Several stacks of material necessary to build more raised gardens have already been delivered to the site. Work is expected to commence on additional raised gardens early next month, including a new overhead irrigation system.

“It is very rewarding,” said Brekke, who has spearheaded the effort to expand the gardens. “When you see the good it does it’s not work. It’s fun. It’s enjoyment.”

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