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Garden Club gives fresh produce to Park Rapids Food Shelf

Hubbard County Food Shelf Director Dave Long, at left, and Faye Ellis, president of the Park Rapids Garden Club, inspect a box of donated produce. The Club makes a weekly donation of fresh vegetables.

The two-dozen members of the Park Rapids Garden Club made a unique donation this year they hope will carry on in the future: life-affirming produce.

Worried that low-income people eat too many processed foods that are high in starch, fats and salt and deficient in enzyme value, the club voted unanimously this season to make a weekly donation of produce to the Hubbard County Food Shelf.

Club members purchased a full share of produce at the Lakes and Valley Community Service Agriculture project, a huge garden south of Park Rapids that sells shares of produce to seven-dozen customers throughout the growing season.

"It absolutely allows people to supplement their diets," said Food Shelf Director Dave Long. "They bring it in Mondays and by the end of the week it's gone, sometimes in two days."

Weekly bushel boxes laden with what's in season arrive every Monday afternoon. This week it was onions, radishes, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots and squash.

The Garden Club holds a spring plant sale as its annual fundraiser. Proceeds go toward scholarships, grants and other community garden educational efforts, said president Faye Ellis.

This year members voted to extend their generosity.

"We wanted to give organic food to those who wouldn't have access to it," Ellis explained.

Most Food Shelf offerings are canned, boxed, processed foods, Long said. Although the Food Shelf periodically gets garden veggies from individuals throughout the season, this donation was the first regular shipment of locally grown produce, Long said.

The Garden Club wanted to get "good healthy food to people who wouldn't ordinarily have the means to buy it," Ellis said.