By Kelcey Caulder, Staff Writer
Harvest of the Heart Gardens, a local non-profit that provides needy families with access to fresh produce and is dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle and sustainable foods, hosted a fundraising Yard Sale on Saturday, July 18 at the Wellington Center located at 1140 Monticello Hwy in Madison from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday’s fundraiser raised a total of $1430 which, according to Dina Tuminella, director of HOHG, will go toward the cost of utilities, supplies, and other behind-the-scenes monetary needs of the organization. “This is an off year for us in the grant area. Many people do not know that there are grants that require a year off from receiving monies. 2015 is that year for us,” Tuminella said. “While fresh produce is not hard to come by in Morgan County, gas for the truck, insurance, money for the utilities that keep the food in the cooler until Friday, supplies for canning, as well as having to pay the occasional sub-contractors, do not grow out of a garden!”
Cathy Whitcomb of Harvest of the Heart Gardens gave special thanks to those who came out to help with the HOHG Yard Sale and noted that volunteers and donors are responsible for a huge portion of what HOHG can do in the community. “A big thanks to Lynne Hester, our secretary and treasurer whose idea this was, and thanks to the wonderful crew from Sword’s United Methodist Church, Dick and Murray Beiser, Shirley and David Moore, Starr Sheppard, and Lynne and Rod Hester,” Whitcomb said. Lynne Hester also wished to thank Mike Conrad for allowing HOHG the use of the parking lot at Wellington.
Though Harvest of the Heart Gardens was founded simply, just one woman, a pickup truck, and a “Free Produce” sign, the organization has grown considerably. HOHG now produces 6-8000 pounds of fresh food per week, meaning that, on average, HOHG feeds an average of 300 families each week. According to Tuminella, the organization has no plans to stop this growth. “Our vision is to turn our gardens into a park like atmosphere that matches Madison’s tour of homes. Think of it as an edible park. We have the plans for raised beds, benches, potting tables, and arbors. It is our hope that the community gardens we work can be of benefit to the entire community,” she said. “Having a park-like atmosphere enables small children and the elderly to not only enjoy them, but to plant and harvest as well. Small children always light up in the garden due to the newfound joy of legally being able to play and get dirty or eat something right off the plant, while older folks recall younger days and simpler times.
Madison deserves beautiful community gardens. We aren’t there yet, but the plans are on the table.” In order for HOHG to reach its’ goal of continuing to provide food for the disadvantaged of Morgan County while continuing to grow its outreach, the organization will need the support of the entirety of Morgan County. Those wishing to provide support can become donors on either a business or individual basis, volunteer to work on projects at the cannery or distribution center, join the cause as a farmer or gardener, or can join the folks in the trenches by registering to help with event and fundraiser planning and execution.
To do so, contact HOHG at 706-557-7602 or 404-909-4809, or through the contact form on their website www.harvestoftheheartgardens.org. Those who want to provide support may also attend Harvest of the Heart’s main fundraising event, Grillin’ & Groovin’ for Goodness Sake, on September 13 at the Sunflower Farm. The event will feature BBQ plates, live music, vendors, games, face-painting, and other family-friendly activities.