To benefit local food pantry, NEJC gardeners ply their craft in Roeland Park community plot

Anne O'Leary picks fresh carrots at the Roeland Park community garden.
Anne O’Leary picks fresh carrots at the Roeland Park community garden.

Judy Parker perched on a overturned five-gallon bucket snapping fresh beans off a vine while Ann O’Leary dug bright carrots out of another plot just a few feet away.

Soon, the fresh produce the two were picking along with other volunteers would end up in the Johnson County Northeast Multi-Service Center food pantry at 6000 Lamar in Mission, where it will be available to families struggling with food insecurity.

Since 2007, a group of Roeland Park area volunteers have maintained a small garden plot between the Roeland Park Community Center and the public pool. And through their donated time and talent, they produce around 1,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and berries for the food pantry each year. In 2013, the group donated a record 1,153 pounds of produce.

The group meets twice during the week to harvest the crops – this year it’s onions, kale, cabbage, peppers, beans, potatoes, broccoli and blackberries. On the weekends, they’ll have work parties to take care of the “heavy” jobs, as Parker calls them, like mulching and composting.

A core group of about seven people maintain the plots. But, says Parker, who had been gardening in her Roeland Park backyard for 20 years before taking over the community garden project, they’re always looking for help. If you’re interested in volunteering at the garden, you can email Parker at parker-j@att.net.

Jane Dermeyer picked blackberries at the Roeland Park community garden last week.
Jane Dermeyer picked blackberries at the Roeland Park community garden last week.