“I love bringing the girls here,” said mom K.C. Cook. “It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also nice for them to learn that tomatoes don’t grow in the produce aisle of the grocery store.”
Which is exactly the point – or at least part of it. For the past few weeks, members of St. Anne and the public have been digging, planting and planning for a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the church’s first community garden.
Born of a desire to give to those in need, garden organizer and parish member Bob Sanoki came up with the idea last March when he realized the expansive acreage behind the church on Camino Diablo Road had literally room to grow.
“I started thinking about this as I was looking around at all this empty land,” said Sanoki. “And with the economy so bad, I thought we could build a community garden and give some of the proceeds to local charities. It was a chance to do something for the community.”
Once he got the green light from St. Anne’s pastor, Father Ron Schmit, Sanoki gathered a group of volunteers and got to work. Since then, the group has built 32 planting boxes –each in 12x6-foot garden-ready plots – and each with its own water spigot. The materials and labor were all volunteered, and in just a matter of weeks, all 32 boxes were spoken for.
“The response so far has been very good,” said Schmit, who also took one of the plots. “The hope, of course, is that people will grow enough for a surplus to give to those in need. A lot of times the food banks are able to provide the basics, but it is the fresh produce that is the most expensive thing on a grocery list. Having fruit and vegetables is a treat, and I think the timing for this is really ripe.”
The purpose of the gardens is to provide for the needy as well as to educate adults and children in the science and basics of gardening. The caveat is that 50 percent of each plot’s proceeds must be harvested and donated to outreach programs throughout the community.
Will Schulte, who has planted snow peas on his plot so far, said he expects the bounty to be, well, bountiful. “It’s been a bit of work getting this going,” he said, “But now things are going to move along and we’ll soon see the fruits of our labor. I think we’ll have a nice turnout.”
Cook thinks so, too. The transplanted southerner has put tomatoes and green beans in her garden, along with something else she’s excited about: okra. “I have a real hard time finding it (okra) in the stores out here, so I’m hoping it will do very well here in our garden,” she laughed. “It would be a nice touch of home.”
And for others, like Cook, it is that feeling of home and family that makes the gardens so special. “The thought is to give to the poor, to give something back,” said Sanoki’s wife Cathy. “But one of the things about giving is that when you go out and help the community, you are helping yourself as well. It brings people together, and you always get so much more than you give.”
While the community garden plots are currently full, there remains a need for donations such as a rototiller, gardening supplies and volunteers to help with watering and eventually harvesting. For more information on how to help, call St. Anne Church at 925-634-6625.