Golden Harvest garden to grow produce for soup kitchen

  • Follow Metro

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.

Back | Next
Travis McNeal crouches among the plots at Golden Harvest Food Bank's new community garden. Volunteers constructed 32 wooden planting beds over the past six months.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Travis McNeal crouches among the plots at Golden Harvest Food Bank's new community garden. Volunteers constructed 32 wooden planting beds over the past six months.

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

Comments (1) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
JRC2024 02/18/12 - 11:56 am
Why not make those guests

Why not make those guests work the gardens for their meal. With an average of 330 per day it should be no problem. Last time I was at a food kitchen looking for someone to work on the weekend they were in line and the lunch was better than I had. They had shrimp, corn on the cob, salad and numerous other things. I guess it is hard work standing in line-couldn't get any of them to come work for me. This was at the church in Harrisburg.

jic 02/21/12 - 11:39 am
I don't think the soup

I don't think the soup kitchen cares much about "making" anybody do anything. Leave that to the "eye for an eye" crowd. Most of the guests are elderly and not fit enough for such work. They might possibly be able to peacefully engage interested guests in education and volunteerism about the benefits of locally grown nutrition (without the usual coercion, cynicism and substandard wages the rest of us put up with from corporate overlords).

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs