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Volunteers raise vegetables to supply Lord’s Cupboard food pantry of Minot

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Pat Julson, Minot, left, and Vickie Phippins, Minot, were among the volunteers working at the raised gardens near Velva this past week. Vegetables harvested from the gardens will be distributed through the Lord’s Cupboard food pantry in Minot.

VELVA – Under sunny skies several volunteers were working in the garden, or gardens, this past Tuesday. At the Duane Brekke farmstead north of this city weeds were being pulled, some vegetables harvested and friendly conversation was heard.

“It’s fun and it’s not even work because you are doing it for such a wonderful cause,” said Brekke. “The last I heard we’ve had 11 different churches come out and help. That’s remarkable.”

The cause is the Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry of Minot. Fresh vegetables harvested from the raised gardens will be distributed through the Lord’s Cupboard to families in need in the region. And this year the need for pantry food is greater than ever, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re seeing expanded numbers of people coming to the pantry with the pandemic,” said Pastor Gerald Roise. “Our needs are going up too. This is a huge place for volunteers if they want to help. We’re so thankful for the community support. It’s been a wonderful project to be a part of.”

The raised gardens are 180 feet long, 4 feet wide and 3-4 feet high, depending on the terrain. There were four such gardens last year. This year the gardens were expanded to six.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Pastor Gerald Roise, Minot, left, and volunteer Kaleb Boehler were busy adding additional stakes to support growing tomato plants at the raised gardens this past Tuesday.

“It’s really been fun to see the gardens expand and grow and people support it stronger,” said Roise. “We’ve had so many businesses support us financially so we could build more gardens.”

All of the gardens have an elevated irrigation system but, recently, it has not had to be used very much. Abundant rainfall has proven very beneficial to the vegetable crop.

“We have an abundance of produce coming,” noted Roise. “It looks really good.”

Some lettuce and a few cucumbers have already been harvested from the gardens. Other vegetables, notably tomatoes, look to be ready in the coming days.

“It’s just a pleasure to see all these wonderful people come out here,” said Brekke while observing several volunteers carefully tend the gardens. Among them was Kaleb Boehler of Minot. Boehler is employed by RDO Equipment, a company that encourages employees to do volunteer work in the community.

“They are very community oriented,” said Boehler. “With COVID going on right now this is a great way to volunteer because of the social distancing aspect of it. I wish we’d have known about it sooner.”

Boehler was helping Roise add supports to growing tomato plants that were tipping over due to an abundance of tomatoes and prevailing winds. On an adjacent raised garden bed Pat Julson and Vickie Phippins, both Minot, were pulling a few weeds and thinning out a thick bed of carrots. The two volunteers are fixtures at the Lord’s Cupboard.

“It’s rewarding to be able to bring fresh vegetables back to the food pantry,” remarked Phippins. “It’s just very rewarding.”

“It’s a good cause,” added Julson while pulling a weed from the moist soil.

Another volunteer, Mary Zupetz of Minot, was doing similar work at another raised garden bed.

“I like gardening. I like to get out of the city and come out here,” said Zupetz. “I’ve been helping out at the pantry for many years. There is a need and, yes, it is very rewarding to do this.”

Roise coordinates the volunteers and the trips to the gardens. He says additional volunteers are always welcome and noted that they easily become “hooked” on the project.

“They want to come back so much,” remarked Roise. “The work is easy because of the raised beds. They don’t have to bend over. They have a good time helping one another and feel good about the project.”

Those wishing to volunteer to help in the gardens can do so through Facebook at Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry or by text at 721-0839.

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