Omaha Hope Garden provides fresh produce for families in need

Published: Jul. 12, 2020 at 2:08 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The coronavirus pandemic is affecting lives in more ways than one.

With some families struggling to make ends meet, fresh produce is hard to come by.

That’s why a group of master gardeners is stepping up.

Tucked away behind Faithful Shepherd Presbyterian Church is a garden oasis.

“It started in 2003. The church wanted to give back to the community so they contacted the extension and they started out by just planting tomatoes,” said Alice Bacon, crew leader at Hope Garden.

Seventeen years later the garden blossomed.

Now spanning a fifth of an acre -- they’re growing a lot more than just tomatoes.

“Eggplant, okra, green beans, a variety of squashes. Summer squashes as well as winter squashes,” said Jan McAlpine, crew leader.

Twenty master gardeners tend to the Hope Garden. “Hope” stands for “Helping Omaha’s People Eat.”

Twice a week, produce is harvested and given to the Heartland Hope Mission in South Omaha.

“They’re working poor. So they’re working but can’t always afford fresh produce. And we pick on Tuesdays and Fridays, the mission is open on those days so we give them the freshest of the fresh produce,” Bacon said.

They’re not harvesting just a handful for donations.

Last Tuesday, 250 pounds of fresh produce was harvested for the Heartland Hope Mission.

“That was last Tuesday. Friday when Jan was out here they were close to 500 pounds, 460 pounds. We average between seven and 10,000 pounds per year, per season,” Bacon said.

Now, with the pandemic putting a strain on families’ ability to buy the food they need, the Hope Garden and the dedicated team who tend it are needed more than ever.

“I can’t think of a better way to serve the community than to have a garden that we grow fresh produce,” Bacon said.

If you want to start your own garden at home - the master gardeners recommend starting small.

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