UNL Extension members visit LRHC community garden

UNL Extension members, Natalie Sehi, front left, and Terri James, front second right, met with LRHC staff and community members to speak about the garden.

LEXINGTON — Food scarcity can effect anyone’s quality of life and dominate the thoughts of those who suffer from it. Lexington Regional Health Center’s community garden is aimed at helping those who are in need.

According to a LRHC press release, since 2012, all of the produce has been donated to the Food Pantry or Mid-Nebraska Community Action. In 2017, Lexington Regional Health Center partnered with the Nebraska Extension Office to receive grant funding for the community garden.

The grant project is aimed at increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for families experiencing poverty in Nebraska, providing information and tips on how to grow a successful garden and including necessary equipment and supplies for the garden’s productivity and appearance. In 2018 the garden harvested 2,336.50 pounds of produce.

The garden, tended by different departments from LRHC, provides fresh vegetables to those in need during the summer. On Thursday, members from the UNL Extension officer visited the garden to review how things were progressing.

Extension educators Natalie Sehi and Terri James spoke with LRHC staff about the garden. Both were interested in how things had been growing, LRHC staff noted there had been delays due to the abnormal spring this year.

The Extension members both said many gardens they have visited around the state are in a similar state and everyone is hoping for a late frost.

Sehi and James were interested in where the produce from the garden was donated and the demographics of the people who received this food.

It was noted a large group of elderly residents access the produce more than younger people.

LRHC Chief Operating Officer Jim Hain is one of the organizers of the garden and said food goes out on Saturdays and many people in the community have learned when the fresh produce has been donated and come flocking in to receive some of it.

Hain keeps a log of everyone who works in the garden, how long and the weight of all the food harvested.

Donations this year have been lower due to the weather conditions, Hain said, all of this produce went to the Mid-Nebraska Community Action food pantry.

The Extension members were also interested in how the seeds were acquired; Hain said many of them come free from Lexington Public Schools, while others are purchased.

Sehi and James also offered tips and best practices when it came to watering and upkeep of the garden. They also encouraged that the public should be involved in the garden as much as possible.

Many different community groups have helped with the garden over the years including the hospital Auxiliary, Mormon missionaries, and the ‘Keep Lexington Beautiful’ organization. The City of Lexington has volunteered to provide and empty the waste receptacles. They also donate the water that is used for the garden. Dawson Public Power has donated wood chips to prevent weed growth, according to a LRHC press release.

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