Golden Harvest garden to grow produce for soup kitchen



Sun and rain will come but vegetable and fruit plants won’t grow without the green thumb needed for the Golden Harvest Food Bank’s new community garden.

At the Master’s Table Soup Kitchen, Golden Harvest volunteers constructed 32 wooden planting beds over the past six months. Guests at the soup kitchen and agencies served by the food bank, however, must wait on fruit and vegetables until the organization finds a skilled garden volunteer to oversee the project.

“We’re ready. It’s almost upon spring and we need one person that’s a volunteer who can champion the whole cause,” said Travis McNeal, Golden Harvest’s director of special projects.

The garden was envisioned during the planning stages for a new soup kitchen building that opened on Fenwick Street in June 2010.

Produce from the garden will be used to cook meals at the Master’s Table where an average of 330 noontime meals are served each day.

Marilyn McKinnie, the manager of the Master’s Table, said volunteers are eager to help in the garden and prepare meals with vegetables.

“I’m hoping we’ll get it planted soon so that we get some lettuce, tomatoes, all that stuff so we can use it for the kitchen here,” McKinnie said.

Fresh produce remains the most difficult commodity for the food bank to acquire. Fruit and vegetables donated by grocery stores quickly rot, and high produce costs make it difficult to purchase fresh.

“For people who don’t have resources, it’s probably the one thing they never see because they can’t afford it,” McNeal said.

Agencies in 30 counties supplied by Golden Harvest request produce first. It’s the first thing to disappear from the food bank, and McNeal hopes the garden initiative will increase supplies.

After preparing soup kitchen meals, remaining produce will be distributed to guests who have homes or places to cook food. Anything left over will go toward daily distribution to agencies.


Golden Harvest needs sponsors for its Master’s Garden. Individuals, groups and corporate sponsors will contribute money toward the garden’s maintenance and might help tend to the plants.

If you are interested in sponsorship or have the garden and organizational skills needed to oversee the project, contact Travis McNeal, Golden Harvest’s director of special projects, at (706) 736-1199.



Mike Firmin, the executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank, will retire soon after 30 years with the organization, according to an announcement Friday. The duties of executive director will be handed over to Travis McNeal, a former Warren Baptist associate pastor for worship, on July 30.

Read Firmin's letter to the public at




Thu, 12/14/2017 - 22:35

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