A hearty tomato-vegetable soup was bubbling away on the stove Monday morning at the Chilliwack Salvation Army soup kitchen.
The fresh ingredients came from a huge pile of veggies donated by Plant A Row Grow A Row growers from Food Matters Chilliwack.
Gardeners dropped off 637.5 pounds of locally grown produce at a central site in Chilliwack Saturday to help feed the hungry at the local food bank and soup kitchen.
“We were just staggered by the total of this donation,” said Ian Pratt, community ministries coordinator for Chilliwack Salvation Army on Monday. “It’s an awesome contribution by a community that is willing to pull together and help out this way.”
Just harvested Grow a Row items ranged from potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips and turnips, to swiss chard, squash, beans and kohlrabi. There was also a huge flat of fresh yellow plums to serve Monday at the soup kitchen for dessert.
“There was a great variety of produce so we will be able to give out little food hampers to everyone who comes into the food line,” said Pratt.
The donated root vegetables have already made it right onto the soup kitchen menu this week.
“We also brought in some soup kitchen volunteers today to help us freeze some of it for use later on as well,” he added.
“The amount of time and effort that went into this volunteer program was substantial and the rewards are truly appreciated,” Pratt said.
Program coordinator Alanna Clempson thanked everyone who joined the Grow a Row Plant A Row program this spring, and stuck it out to make the monthly harvests a success.
“Thank you to everyone who came out and all the extra helping hands today with the set-up and the taking down of the tents and tables, and for washing and weighing it all,” she wrote on Saturday, after the event.
There is still one final remaining drop-off and garden harvest swap planned for 2011 on Sept. 24 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Cottonwood mall parking lot.
Local master gardener Brian Minter will be giving a talk on ‘Keeping Your Garden Growing’ at about 2:30 p.m.
Anyone with a substantial amount of fruit or vegetables to be gleaned for the hungry, or anyone who knows someone with produce to be picked, can contact gleaning coordinator Claire at email@example.com or go to www.foodmatterschilliwack.com/gleaning/