Kokomo’s Community Garden celebrates 10-ton harvest

2014 harvest brings 12-year total to more than 93 tons of produce

for organizations that serve the hungry

KOKOMO, Ind. — Community Garden volunteers, donors and recipients celebrated the end of another garden season at Ivy Tech Community College recently at the garden’s annual Harvest Celebration. The garden this year produced a total of 20,722.75 pounds of fresh vegetables for 13 local organizations that serve the hungry, bringing the total yield for the garden’s 12 years of raising produce to 186,282 pounds or more than 93 tons.

The garden produced everything from acorn squash to zucchini with totals that ranged from 11 pounds of herbs and garlic to 1,373 pounds of green beans to 2,514 pounds of corn to 6,000 pounds of tomatoes.

The 2014 harvest, with the second highest yield of produce in the garden’s history, was made possible by volunteers who gave more than 1,783 hours of their time to make the Community Garden a success. Records kept since the garden’s first season in 2003 show that volunteers have donated about 16,500 hours over the 12 years, with an estimated value of nearly $340,000 in volunteer labor.

Sarah McCormack, coordinator of the 2014 garden, noted that this effort has made has made a significant contribution to the community by making a difference in the lives of countless individuals in Howard County.

“We had a wonderful season this year,” McCormack said. “Not only was it our second best harvest on record, but we had a record year in broccoli and tomato production. This year we had a special contribution from Teng Lee, a senior at Kokomo High School. He’s working to achieve his Eagle Scout status and he built three benches and a new weigh table for the garden. We are very grateful he chose the garden to give such a gift.”

She continued, “We wanted for nothing this year! Adler’s Feed Express donated all of our seeds and plants and The Andersons Inc. donated the fertilizer. When we got low on boxes for the produce, we simply made a call to Syndicate Sales and we were supplied with enough boxes to finish out the season. It is amazing how the citizens and businesses of this community provide us support to make the community garden a success consistently throughout the years. We could not produce what we do if it were not for them.”

McCormack noted 22 people each provided more than 25 hours in volunteer service to the garden. At the top of the list, those volunteering more than 100 hours during the 2014 season, were Tom Georges (161.75 hours), Larry Bills (161.5 hours), Bob Parks (159.75 hours) and former garden coordinator Becky Swails (104.5 hours).

The Community Garden provides fresh produce for the hungry in Howard County and serves as an educational classroom for students, master gardeners and anyone interested in helping tend the garden. It is the result of a partnership between Ivy Tech Community College, the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service of Howard County and the Howard County Master Gardener Association. It is operated entirely on donations and the work of volunteers.

The idea for the garden came from Ivy Tech Chancellor Steve Daily and Purdue University Howard County Extension Educator Rollin Machtmes. It became a reality through a donation of land made by Ivy Tech supporters Don and Louise Thomas at the corner of Touby Pike and North Street. Garden volunteers have transformed the donated grassland into two acres of rich soil that produce thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year.

Organizations that receive produce from the garden for distribution to the community’s hungry include Coordinating Assistance Ministries Inc. (CAM), Family Services Association Domestic Violence Shelter, The Gilead House, Hands of Grace, Howard Haven, Open Arms Women’s Shelter, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Samaritan Love Center, Soul Food Café, St. Luke’s Food Pantry and Urban Outreach.

For additional information or an opportunity to support the Community Garden, contact Sarah McCormack at sarah.mccormack02@gmail.com .

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About Ivy Tech Kokomo Region

Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties and includes campuses or instructional sites in the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, and Rochester. Ivy Tech serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. For more information, visit www.ivytech.edu.
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