Garden/Food Pantry Survey

WHY THE SURVEY In order to best determine the use of limited space at The Garden of Eden to grow and to acknowledge the desires of the clients of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, a survey was conducted. The following are the results of the survey. No statistical analyses were done but the results are considered representative of the clients in the pantry. THE SURVEY AND ITS ADMINISTRATION The survey consisted of an introduction and two questions. The introduction merely stated that The Garden of Eden provided food for the pantry and had collected more than 3700 pounds last year. All the foods grown at The Garden of Eden were listed and the responders were asked to circle the ones they were most likely to take home. There was no limit to the number of choices the clients could make. One respondent marked one vegetable and about five marked all the vegetables and fruits. The second question was open ended and asked what foods the clients would like to see more of in the pantry. The survey was administered to the clients of the food pantry during October, 2017 as they awaited their turn to be serviced. As the clients generally attend the pantry once a month, duplicates were unlikely. It is unknown how many clients could not or would not complete the survey or why. The volunteers at the pantry were asked to participate in the survey, but none did so. The staff was not asked to participate. Four hundred two responses were returned. RESPONSES OF THE SURVEY IN NUMBERS Acorn Squash = 64 Green Peppers = 329 82% Russet Potatoes = 30 76% Beans = 204 50% Horseradish = 53 Spaghetti Squash = 86 Beets = 93 Kale = 166 Strawberries = 333 83% Broccoli = 308 77% Leeks = 49 Sweet Potatoes = 313 78% Butternut Squash = 82 Lettuce = 304 76% Tomatoes = 342 85% Cabbage = 296 74% Malabar Spinach = 86 Tromboncino Squash = 21-70* Cantaloupes = 254 63% Okra = 227 56% Turnips = 195 Chard = 38 Onions = 334 83% Yellow Straight-Necked Squash = 67 Collard Greens = 259 64% Pattypan Squash = 26 Watermelons = 332 83% Cucumbers = 298 74%. Peanuts = 184 Zucchini = 183 Garlic = 232 58% Peas = 198 Grapes = 323 80% Radishes = 98 Tromboncino squash took up two lines due to space on the survey. A range was given for tromboncino squash as many clients circled the word “squash” and not “tromboncino squash”. 21 clients circled both words and 70 circled the word “squash”. It was uncertain if they meant squash in general or the specific one. RESPONSES OF THE SURVEY’S OPEN ENDED QUESTION Several aspects of the survey’s open ended questions displayed misunderstandings of the survey itself – or the fact that it came from a garden. It is not likely the garden can grow items such as badder pads, toilet paper, cheese, milk, butter, cereal, canned fruit and detergent! Because of climate considerations, the garden is unable to grow oranges, lime, bananas, and quinoa. There is a lack of space for an orchard. Thus requests for apples, plums, peaches, prunes, and walnuts cannot be considered. There is also lack of space to grow corn. Carrots and blueberries...

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From Garden to Food Pantry

The following article was written by Erin Wood, communications director of Gateway Greening, and was published in Gateway Greening’s blog. It is reproduced here with her permission. Recently, Gateway Greening interviewed long time volunteer and Garden Leader Myra Rosenthal to learn more about the Garden of Eden’s unique mission. Founded in 2011 with the goal of providing free produce to the local Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, the Garden of Eden has grown considerably and served as a model for how community gardens can form successful partnerships with food pantries. Garden to Food Pantry If you stopped by the Demonstration Garden this spring, you may have met Myra Rosenthal, a long time Gateway Greening volunteer and Garden Leader of the Garden of Eden at the JCC. Recently, we caught up with Myra to learn more about the Garden of Eden’s unique mission: providing her local food pantry with fresh garden produce. Organic Beginnings “You know, it wasn’t difficult [to start a garden] and it evolved organically (pardon the pun).  Many people have gardens in their homes and bring excess produce to the pantry.  For years my husband has always taken his extra tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers there.  Jewish congregations in the St. Louis area have donation bins solely for the purpose of collecting food for the pantry.” – Myra Rosenthal, Garden Leader at the Garden of Eden. Founded in 2011 with the goal of providing fresh produce to the local Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, the Garden of Eden has grown considerably from its humble beginnings. Open four days a week, the Garden of Eden is located on a corner of the St. Louis Jewish Community Center property and currently has more than 4,000 square feet of growing space in the form of raised planting berms and beds. A portion of the garden is reserved for the use of nearby Covenant Place residents, many of whom are immigrants or refugees. With the combined effort of long-time gardeners, individual and group volunteers, and even a few cheery day camp participants, the Garden of Eden was able to grow and donate more than 3,700 pounds of food to the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry in 2016 alone. Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry Started in 1991, the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, a program of Jewish Family & Children’s Service, originally operated out of a single room on a shoestring budget, serving no more than 40 families. Since then the food pantry has grown considerably. Today it is a designated USDA food pantry affiliated with the St. Louis Area Foodbank and Operation Food Search, and serves more than 6,500 people each month, making it one of the largest food pantries in the region. During a recent visit to the food pantry to learn more about how community gardeners can support their local pantries, Gateway Greening staff Erin Wood and Mallory Brown were deeply impressed by the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry’s commitment to alleviating hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds. The staff and volunteers of the pantry make every effort to accommodate special dietary needs, providing kosher, halal, gluten-free, and diabetic friendly options for their guests as much as possible. When asked how the Garden of Eden decides what to grow in the garden each year, Myra’s response was candid:...

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Fall and Winter Gardening at The Garden of Eden

About this time of year I am often asked if the garden is over. After all, the first frost is imminent, winter is just a month or so away, and the growing season is over. We can rest now. Right? Certainly anyone asking is jesting! The garden continues, albeit in some areas not as actively, during the cold months. The Garden of Eden grows cool weather crops. Broccoli and cabbage, for instance, thrive in cool weather and can endure light frost. It is amazing how well chard and some kale do during the winter. Radishes and lettuces grow just fine in our cold frames. We try to harvest twice a month during late fall and winter in order to supply the food pantry. Our work actually increases in the fall. To wit: We just put plastic on the cold frames. The cold frames act as a greenhouse during the winter months. Crops inside the cold frame grow when the sun’s rays warms the inside. If it snows or is extremely chilly, the plants suspend growth until warmth returns. (During the active season we remove the plastic and use the frames to grow regular crops.) We finished planting about 150 cloves of garlic. The garlic needs cold in order to trigger growth. The garlic scapes will be harvested probably in June and the garlic themselves will be harvested probably in early July. We are taking down fences and arbors and storing them until we start planting spring/summer crops. The berms and beds are currently being seeded with cover crops which will grow during the winter months and replenish essential soil nutrients. The reason the fences need to be down is so, come mid winter, we can crimp and then cover the cover crops with black tarp for a few weeks. The cover crops will die and form compost for our to-be- planted seeds and seedlings. This procedure is called no-till. All our gardening tools and implements need to be washed, inspected, and, if need be, repaired. All our equipment needs to be safely secured. We are digging out obnoxious weeds so they won’t get a head start come spring. Our irrigation system needs to be protected during the winter months and need to be available should we have a long session of warmer days. Additionally, we are expanding our irrigation system this fall/winter. It takes time to work out the logistics of installation and implement them. We have asked the clients and volunteers of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry for feedback on the crops we grow. The survey should be completed soon and we will analyze the results to better plan our planting and equipment needs in the 2018 season. We are greatly indebted to Judy Berkowitz, director of the food pantry, for her assistance. We will be perusing garden catalogs, websites, and experiences of local gardeners to learn what worked or didn’t work for them in order to plan our seed and seedling purchases for next year. Nearly all our seeds and plants are organic and thus we need to know what the growing requirements are for each one. All ordering is completed by mid February. We will very shortly begin to plan what to plant where. Crops are continually rotated in our garden in order to confuse...

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Eating Sweet Potato Leaves

To my surprise, our neighbors in Covenant Place wanted very much to pick sweet potato leaves. They said it was good to eat. WHAT??? I had NO idea sweet potato leaves were edible! I looked it up on the internet. It turned out the entire sweet potato plant is edible, even the stems! Sweet potato roots are a good source of carbohydrates, while sweet­ potato tops (leaves and stems) contain additional nutritional components in much higher concentrations than in many other commercial vegetables. Sweet potato leaves are rich in ß­carotene (Vitamin A), iron, calcium, zinc and protein. Sweet­ potato also contains dietary fiber, lipid and ash. It contains essential mineral nutri­ents such as P, Mg, Na, K, S, Cu, Mn, Al and B. Sweet potato is also an important source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin (all Vitamin B), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and many other functional compounds. Benefits of sweet potato leaves include: antioxidative activity (protection from diseases linked to oxidation such as cancer, allergies, aging, HIV and cardiovascular problems), reduction of liver injury, antimutagenicity (prevents cells from mutating), antihypertension, antimicrobial activity, anti­inflammation, promotion of bowel movement, anti­diabetic effect, anticaries effect, and ultraviolet protection effect. Isn’t that amazing! Why don’t we see the leaves in the grocery stores? Sweet potato leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Sweet potato leaves should be refrigerated and cooked immediately so as not to lose vitamins to air. Prepare sweet potato tops by boiling, steaming or stir-­frying to preserve nutrients. Save the liquid they are cooked in for other uses. While cooking vegetables leads to slight nutrient losses, heat also helps activate some plant enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants. Boiling the sweet potato vine leaves in a small amount of water removes any toughness or bitterness. Once the sweet potato greens are tender, chop the leaves and use them in recipes or sauté them with butter and garlic, then splash the hot sweet potato greens with soy sauce or vinegar and a dash of salt. We are now going to supply the food pantry with the heretofore unexpected food source. Additionally, I’m going to try some sweet potato leaves. How about you? Want more information about gardening programs in the community? Read the Gateway Greening Blog by clicking...

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