Goshen Health Community Garden shares harvest with local food pantries

Goshen Middle School students help plant the Goshen Health Community Garden last spring.

GOSHEN — Ready to get your hands dirty for a good cause? It’s the growing season at Goshen Health Community Garden. That means it’s time for volunteer gardeners to water crops, mow grass and harvest bushels of produce.

“It’s like a discovery zone in the garden,” said Sara Stalter, director of Food and Nutrition Services at Goshen Health. “There’s something for everyone – whether you like to get your hands in dirt or want to deliver produce to one of our food pantry partners.”

Produce from gardens like Goshen Health’s helps feed more than 1,400 local families, according to Tom McArthur, director of Church Community Services. The organization operates Seed to Feed, which provides fresh, local produce to food pantries in the area. Goshen Health has been a partner with Seed to Feed since planting the garden’s first half-acre in 2016.

“It’s uncommon to have fresh produce in food pantries,” McArthur said. “Our community partners allow Seed to Feed to share nearly 140,000 pounds of fresh produce with our pantry guests.”

Goshen Health donates all garden produce to food pantries across Elkhart County, including The Window in Goshen to help feed the local community.

“We will start harvesting peppers, eggplant and other vegetables in late July,” Stalter said.

With starts of tomatoes, melons, squash and beans pushing through the dirt, the growing season – and the need for volunteers – continues into October.

Pop-up groups of volunteers that come to the garden include church fellowships, high school athletic teams, retired farmers and city folk, home school kids, neighbors, friends and families.

“The garden inspires people for all kinds of reasons,” Statler said.

Some come to learn what it takes to get local, pesticide-free food to the table. Others find a sense of peace and healing while gardening. Neighbors meet neighbors. Everyone makes a difference, organizers said. 

The plot is located off Professional Drive behind Goshen Retreat Women’s Health Center. Visitors are welcome to pick fruits and vegetables for their own tables or help box produce for the food pantries.

Those who go to the garden should bring plenty of water. Gardening gloves and insect repellent also can make the dig more enjoyable.

– Goshen Health

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