The Ability Garden, part of NC Cooperative Extension, is working hard to provide vegetables and gardening kits to families in the community. The Veggie Sharing Program is an exciting program that Cape Fear Farm Credit is proud to help sponsor in its second year.
The Veggie Sharing Program began in the spring of 2020 to help offset food insecurity in the community as the pandemic began.
“We wanted to increase the capacity of limited resource families to be able to grow their own fresh vegetables. A secondary benefit was that it gets people outside,” said Heather Kelejian, Ability Garden Director.
The effort was successful in distributing over 1,000 summer vegetables and 75 bags of soil. Families planted their vegetable seedlings in the bags, following provided instructions and tips. This year, the program hopes to provide 1,800 plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, and zucchini) and 60 veggie sharing kits (bag of soil and three gardening hand tools) for 60 families.
The Ability Garden is partnering with the Wilmington Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program and The Carousel Center to provide the families they serve with veggies. In addition to the kits, Ability Garden currently maintains a small vegetable garden at Carousel Center for counselors as they work with children. They will partner with others like Community in Schools to distribute the plants and kits.
Cape Fear Farm Credit recently donated financial resources to the efforts of the Veggie Sharing Program. This donation will go towards the purchase of plants and supplies.
“The Ability Garden is doing an outstanding job at not only introducing agriculture to families, but also providing a valuable service in offsetting food insecurity. CFFC is proud to sponsor such endeavors, and we are excited to see growth in the plants, families and communities,” said Janna Bass, Marketing & Financial Services Manager at Cape Fear Farm Credit.
Last year’s efforts have expanded to more families and more partners. Heather says that this year Hoggard High School’s FFA program is going to grow some of the vegetable plants for the program. The Ability Garden is also getting help from a UNCW PE class. The University recently added gardening to their physical education offerings.
Plants and kits will start to be distributed to families in April. This community project is teaching, feeding, and connecting folks in the simplest of ways—dirt and plants, and really the simple things are what can make all the difference.