Submitted by Gwen Herzog, Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Vegetable Garden Chair
As a vegetable gardener, for me, the saddest day of the year is putting my garden to bed in the fall when the forecast of frost looms. My parents come over to help me remove all the vegetables still on the vine, pull the plants, and get the cages, stakes, and ties stored away. It always amazes me how many end-of-season vegetables we remove, box, and stack in my garage for friends, neighbors, and family to pick over. In 2022, I was honored to take on the responsibility of chairing the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Garden located at the Mickley-Pyrdun Farm. The WCHI garden was also put to bed last October providing me with a second sad day.
Vegetable gardening has been a part of my life since I was a kid. My parents had a garden in our yard that expanded throughout my childhood. I helped my mom pick, clean, freeze, and can vegetables that would feed our family throughout the fall, winter, and spring. When I worked in West Virginia my landlords allowed me to use the flower beds around the house to grow a vegetable garden. When I returned to Pennsylvania and purchased my house in Whitehall, I continued the practice of using the flower beds around the house to grow vegetables. My mom once told me my house needed curb appeal. I told her I didn’t care, I wanted to grow vegetables. She, along with other family, friends, neighbors, and the Pantry now enjoys sharing my garden bounty all summer long.
Did you know that our Pantry will gladly accept any fresh extra produce you would like to share with our Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative Community? Our guests like to cook and gratefully accept fresh vegetables and fruit when they visit our Pantry. Vegetables and fruit are also used and shared at our Free Community Meals. When planning your garden for 2023, why not plant an extra plant or even an extra row for our WCHI Pantry? Your donated bounty may be dropped off at Shari Noctor’s Re/Max Unlimited Real Estate office, 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall. Feel free to reach out on our WCHI website, Facebook page, or call/text me directly at 610-379-6823 to arrange for pickup of your extra produce.
Another way you can help our Pantry provide fresh vegetables to our guests this summer is to help at our WCHI Garden. We need volunteers to help plant, water, weed, harvest, cut grass, and weed whack. No experience is needed, but clearances are required. Last year despite a late start, we had a very successful year! We harvested: 89 zucchini, 263 eggplants, 503 peppers, 127 bags of grape/cherry tomatoes, 24 cucumbers, 7 bags of string beans, 8 large tomatoes, and 5 heads of cauliflower. Many of these vegetables went to households at our Children’s Summer Feeding Program and the rest were shared on our monthly Pantry distribution days. For 2023, we are planning to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, and squash. Indoor seed planting, weeding, and vegetable bed prep will start in March.
The best day for this gardener is when the vegetable plants and string bean seeds go into the ground. It’s an exciting time filled with high expectations for what the plants will provide throughout the summer. If you are a vegetable gardener, I wish you a bounty-filled summer that you can share with others! If you have never grown a vegetable garden, why not give it a try? You can start with even just a single plant. Still not sure? Join us at the Pantry Garden and give it a try.