Are your pepper plants popping? Tomatoes taking over? Parsley needing to be picked? Students in Liberty Ranch High School’s agricultural department would like your bountiful harvest so that they may pass it on to needy Galt families.
Students are working to sow and reap gardens, thanks to a handful of grants and donations that helped install the first 20 raised beds last year, as well as purchase soil, irrigation supplies, seeds and other garden necessities for the school’s Outdoor Learning Laboratory and Community Garden.
They put in 10 additional beds on the campus this week, with plans to plant more seeds for the fall and continue to donate each week to the local food closet.
And they’re seeking members of the community and other schools to aid them in their efforts.
Junior Brooke Hinders, who helped plant the original 20 beds and install the irrigation, is the first student to plant a garden at home for the community — something the students hope other community members will do as well. Hinders made her first delivery to the Sunshine Food and Clothing Closet in Galt on Wednesday.
“It makes me feel very humble that I’m able to help people out by fighting hunger locally,” she said.
Hinders wants to give at least 50 pounds to the local food closet this school year. She’s growing tomatoes, squash and watermelon, and plans to cultivate okra and other vegetables this winter.
Gardening is nothing new to Hinders, who used to work alongside her grandfather as a child — but the outcome today is different.
“I never thought I’d donate the food.” she said.
Last school year, students worked during classtime, with some volunteering their time over the summer to harvest those crops. Now, they are preparing for the next harvest by transplanting fall vegetables into the garden.
“We have watermelons, squash and tomatoes for the community,” senior Kelsey O’Donoghue said, adding that this year, local third-graders who participate in Field Day will be able to take home student-grown pumpkins instead of ones trucked in from outside of Galt.
O’Donoghue has been part of the effort for the past two years.
Every Monday after school, they hold work days open to any student.
“We weed, water and make sure to cut all the vegetables and sort them for the food bank,” O’Donoghue said. “That feels really good. We’ve done food drives in the past, but it’s not something I’ve really connected with until I saw where our food came from and actually harvested it.”
Since picking crops started last winter, adviser Mandy Garner estimates that the school has harvested about 250 pounds of fresh vegetables and donated them to the food closet. Liberty Ranch FFA’s goal is to be the food closet’s sole fresh vegetable provider.
To do this, she wants to provide starter plants or seeds to community members willing to commit to donating a portion of their harvest to the food closet.
Additionally, the group seeks to help other local elementary schools start gardens of their own.
The Sunshine Food and Clothing Closet at Galt United Methodist Church, 571 C St., distributes fresh produce and bread every Thursday. It serves about 100 families per month.
If you are interested in growing a home garden and would like to participate in Garner’s challenge to battle hunger in Galt by donating your extra harvest to the local food bank, contact Garner at mgarner@ghsd. k12.ca.us or 209-744-4250, ext. 8704.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.