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Growing strong: Volunteers help Corner Cupboard community garden to thrive

By April Barbe 3 min read
article image - Submitted
Waynesburg University students help the Corner Cupboard get their community garden ready for planting.

It takes quite a bit of work to get a single family’s backyard garden ready for planting.

At Corner Cupboard Food Bank, there are eight raised beds and several more along the fence that need tending, so the nonprofit’s executive director was glad to receive some recent help with that task from Waynesburg University’s students and staff.

Students from the university’s Bonner scholars program, soccer and football teams, and the football coaching staff all rolled up their sleeves last month to help the nonprofit in a number of ways.

“Students worked in the community garden, prepping our raised beds for planting. They also helped to build pallets of food to be delivered to upcoming pantry distributions, reorganized our walk-in freezer and helped to set up our conference room for an upcoming event,” Webster said.

The community garden project began in 2016, according to Webster. It was an initiative she started the year before, looking for ways to involve the community at the food pantry.

“I had read a lot about community gardens and thought that this would be a great way to not only provide additional produce for our food distributions, but also inspire self-sustainability within our community and encourage volunteering,” she said.

Webster said the local chapter of the Penn State Master Gardeners are also consistent volunteers and have helped to make the garden a success.

During the growing season, volunteers prepare, plant and harvest produce from the garden, which then goes out to 11 food pantries in the county, and is distributed to families in need, Webster said.

There is also a compost bin on the property. Any produce that is unfit for the pantry to distribute can be added to the compost, which will eventually break down and be used in the garden to grow more vegetables.

Founded in 1992, Corner Cupboard is the only food bank in Greene County, and more than 150 volunteers work to package and distribute monthly food boxes to individuals or families every month.

The food comes from farmers, retailers, manufacturers, food drives and government agencies, and in the summer, is supplemented by what’s grown in the garden.

From tilling and planting to harvesting and distributing, the garden is a months-long endeavor open to anyone who’d like to volunteer.

“One thing, among many, that I love about this project, is that since we began the garden, there have been so many different local groups, individuals, organizations, businesses, schools involved with volunteering with the garden. And the garden is a stepping stone to educating our community members about our organization, what we do, and how it all works,” Webster said.

Corner Cupboard is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 881 Rolling Meadows Road in Waynesburg. For more information, including volunteer opportunities, visit www.cornercupboard.org or call 724-627-9784.

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