'People's Garden' Grows Fresh Produce for Cape May County Food Pantries

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One local farm is working hard to take fresh veggies straight from the ground and get them into the hands of those working at Cape May County food pantries, so they can benefit area residents who may need a little help putting food on the table.
“All the food that you see on the table here comes from the People’s Garden," said Rutgers Master Gardner and Coordinator Jerry McManus. "It’s a program that the USDA started last year and Master Gardeners of Cape May County helped to prepare the fields and to help put all the plants in.”
And the hundreds of pounds of fresh veggies harvested each year go right to Cape May County food pantries.
“We have tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, flat leaf parsley, string beans, and then we’ll be putting a full garden in once we start pulling different things out now,” said McManus.
All of which are grown organically at the ‘People’s Garden.
“You know sometimes you look at a tomato or something and you’ll see some marks on vegetables and things, I don’t use any sprays whatsoever," said McManus. "So you’ll see marks on things from bugs and things like that.”
The three pantries across Cape May County enjoy weekly donations picked straight from the garden.
“After the plants have been put into the field and we have everything ready for harvest, we go out to different food pantries and get volunteers and get them to come and pick all the vegetables,” said McManus. “The first year we donated 238 pounds of food. So right now is when the harvest is really coming in so I don’t know what just we’re going to have this year.”
McManus hopes to exceed last year’s donations and continue to do so every year with plans to eventually expand.
“We get a lot of donations from other organizations as well but most of it is like sweet stuff," said Terry Mascione, volunteer at Branches. "So when we get the vegetables that’s really big things for us. The apples, the oranges, the bananas and all of this, it’s just wonderful.”
And he is happy to be able to provide healthy food to those in need.
“It’s good food and it’s going to a good place so we’re happy,” said McManus.