Fresh vegetables offered on Tuesdays
Since the middle of July, Tuesday mornings in the Sunshine Room of the Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church have been blessed with fresh produce — bright red tomatoes, string beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers and other seasonal vegetables.
Thanks to a cooperative effort between our church, William H. Jordan Farm on Wells Road and the two Cape Community Gardens on Spurwink Avenue at the Gull Crest Fields and Maxwell’s Farm, the best of this summer’s harvest of succulent vegetables have been made available, free of charge, to individuals and families in Cape Elizabeth who have limited resources and are struggling to eat healthy food.
The Tuesday morning pantry is open between 8:30-10:30 a.m. and is scheduled to continue operating through late October, depending on the weather and crop yields.
The offering of fresh vegetables has been named Judy’s Produce Pantry, to honor the memory of Judy Simonds, whose passion was gardening. Judy had been a Cape Elizabeth resident since 1971 before her passing earlier this year.
With the help of the William H. Jordan Farm, Nancy Miles has been running the Tuesday pantry with assistance from Laura Simonds and Jane Laplante, Judy’s daughters, and several gardeners from the Cape Community Garden.
In 2002, Nancy Miles and Judy Simonds were two of the founders of the Cape Community Garden at Gull Crest Field. While the gardens were open to residents of the Cape to nurture their own produce, two to three plots of the land were dedicated to the Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) national program. Through the Gull Crest PAR program, more than 2,000 pounds of produce have been delivered to food pantries in Scarborough, Portland and South Portland over the past nine summers.
“We wanted to be able to offer something to the people of Cape Elizabeth, too,” Nancy Miles explained, “but all of the local churches which had pantries dealt primarily with canned goods. We could never work it out to provide fresh vegetables.”
Though the first few weeks of Judy’s Produce Pantry in the Cape Elizabeth UMC saw very few people take advantage of the offering, the past few weeks have brought out more people, gathering vegetables for themselves and for others who are unable to get out of their homes.
“As the program continues to grow,” Nancy Miles said, ” we expect other farms and Cape gardeners will become involved.”
If you have questions or concerns, or if you would like to participate but can’t get to the pantry when it is open, please contact Nancy Miles and alternative arrangements will be made. E-mail Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 767-1031.
According to the Garden Writers Association web site, since 1995, American gardeners have donated over 14 million pounds of herbs and vegetables to feed the hungry in local neighborhoods and communities. The PAR program has become so vital because, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 in 8 households in the United States experiences hunger or the risk of hunger.
Here are some images from the pantry on a recent Tuesday morning: