Summer appears to have come and gone in the blink of an eye, but left in its wake a bountiful harvest beyond expectations for the first plantings in the Hunger Coalition's Hope Garden in Hailey.
"It was an amazing summer," said Executive Director Jeanne Liston. "Who would have thought we'd be able to do as much as we could in the garden in such a short amount of time?"
To celebrate the harvest, the Hunger Coalition will have a Harvest of Hope Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 4-7 p.m. at the Hope Garden in Hailey. The garden is located on the corner of Walnut Street and First Avenue.
The Harvest of Hope Celebration will offer community members an opportunity to tour the garden beds, enjoy live music and engage in fun family activities. Valley chefs and caterers will offer various fresh dishes prepared with herbs and vegetables grown at the Hope Garden. Food will be available for purchase for $3 per serving along with wine and beer at $5.
Garden and Education Manager Hallie Reikowsky was key to the garden's success. She organized and planned the garden with help of clients and volunteers and will continue through the winter with education and more planning for next year.
"Without our clients and volunteers, we would not be enjoying such plentiful harvests," Reikowsky said.
The Hope Garden provided an opportunity for Hunger Coalition clients to empower themselves and give back to their community. With clients working alongside other volunteers, the Hope Garden provided an inspiring outdoor classroom to share gardening tips and learn new skills. It was also responsible for producing locally grown, fresh produce for weekly distribution to those in need.
The Hunger Coalition distributes more than 1,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables each week through its Mobile Food Bank program. The addition of the summer's bounty from volunteer gardeners in the Grow a Row program and the Hope Garden only added to the quality of food distribution.
"One of things I love about the garden this summer was the Language in the Garden program," Liston said. "It was a great opportunity to bring the entire community together. It was a place for people to feel comfortable learning about other cultures in a fun environment."
The Harvest of Hope Celebration is also a significant milestone for the Hunger Coalition because it's the coalition's first community fundraising event open to everyone.
"It was great to have the additional resources of fresh, locally grown food for the food bank and see tangible results," Liston said. "We are bracing ourselves for what could be a tough winter."
Liston said the level of desperation for food recipients has been on the rise, and the Hunger Coalition is seeing new people needing food.
"People are desperate and don't know where to go," she said. "They have to turn to us to feed their kids."
For details, call the Hunger Coalition at 788-0121 or visit www.thehungercoalition.org