Agape welcomes fresh produce

By Conelia Dixon - Contributing columnist

If you are a vegetable gardener, right about now you are preparing yourself for an abundance of green beans. The tomato onslaught will also begin soon. How can a person prevent being pummeled by a pile of produce? Our first suggestion would be to donate it to a local food pantry. Agape is just one of the area pantries that welcomes fresh produce. Find a pantry near you, and turn your excess into food for the less fortunate. Fresh produce at the grocery store can often be cost-prohibitive for struggling families, so your donation will go a long way towards providing healthy options to all Shelby County residents.

In addition to sharing, you can also pull out grandma’s old pressure cooker and do some canning. Nothing beats the taste of dilly beans or homemade pasta sauce in January when temperatures are freezing and the sky remains gray for days on end. It may be a lot of work now, but you will surely appreciate it come winter.

Finally, if the thought of standing in a steamy kitchen for hours doesn’t wow you, there are other, easier ways to use produce. The number of recipes available online is now seemingly infinite, but we often get into culinary ruts. The answer? Vicky Cordonnier of the OSU Extension Office conducts produce classes at Agape at 10 a.m. on the second and third Wednesdays of each month of the growing season. You don’t need to be an Agape shopper to attend these easy, informative classes that highlight the current produce at peak season and show the many ways you can use these fruits and veggies simply and economically.

Thanks to the generosity of Jeff Bertke and his team of students at Upper Valley Career Center, our learning building at Agape now has electricity! We are so excited to now be able to use it for these classes. We are located at 209 Brooklyn Avenue, and the learning building can be reached through the Agape parking lot located off of Court Street. Past classes have discussed such things as making your own herb vinegar and creating stir-fries with unique vegetables. Come to July and August classes to see how Vicky can inspire you in the kitchen.

If you can’t make it during the work week, we would still love for you to check out our newly electrified little home and all the other interesting things happening in the garden this summer. Stop by on Saturday, July 20, for our monthly open house and work day. Stay for 15 minutes for a quick tour, or come and work for a couple of hours. We love all our volunteers and visitors!

We will conclude this article with a update: After our plea for soil last month, not only did we get thirty bags of soil from the Women’s Committee, we received a large pile of leaf mulch from Gregg, a frequent volunteer at the garden, and a literal truckload of topsoil from Christopher Gibbs. Thanks to everyone involved in helping us with this need! And, since this seems to be the place for wish fulfillment, our next big project will be putting insulation and flooring in our newly electrified building. If you are able to help out with this, please contact Conelia Dixon at 937-726-9525.

By Conelia Dixon

Contributing columnist

The writer is a Master Gardener and a coordinator of the People’s Garden. Reach her at 937-726-9525.

The writer is a Master Gardener and a coordinator of the People’s Garden. Reach her at 937-726-9525.