Start a Garden for Hope

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Hope's food program is able to feed thousands of people each year. One of the things that sets us apart is our selection of fresh produce. Providing fresh produce helps our pantry feel like a real grocery store and also provides more nutritious options. We even have a farm stand next door that feels just like a farmer's market.

You can help provide this nutritious food by donating space in your garden or starting a whole new one!

This project is longer term, needs a garden space, and with adult supervision is great for kids over age 4.

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How To Start a Garden for Hope

1. Recruit Help

Gardening is more fun to do together! Consider sharing the load with your neighbors or small group.

2. Find a Garden Space

  • Choose a spot with full sun and shelter from wind
  • Decide how big you want it to be - consider starting small while you learn - a 10x10 patch or a couple of 4x8 boxes will produce a lot of food

3. Prepare the soil

  • Clear the space of grass and weeds, remove roots, and till the soil using a shovel and hoe or rented rototiller.
  • Vegetables need nice, airy, easy draining soil to grow well. Mix in some good compost or mulch and break up the big clumps.
  • Consider getting a pH testing kit to help you know what to grow and what your soil needs
  • You can learn a lot about preparing soil online - gardeners.com and bhg.com have helpful guides.
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4. Decide what to grow

Here are some vegetables that tend to grow well in Michigan and that we are always looking for at Hope:

  • Salad greens 
  • Herbs such as basil, dill, mint, and thyme
  • Leafy greens, esp. collards, chard, and kale
  • Tomatoes, esp. heirloom and cherry
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans and peas
  • Strawberries

5. Sow seeds and maintain your garden

  • Sow according to instructions
  • Consider planting seedlings instead of seeds, especially as you learn. You may find it easier.
  • Stay on top of weeds and watch for pests
  • Most veggies need an average of 1" of water per week - more in hot weather. Give a good deep soak rather than light sprinkles.

6. Harvest your veggies and bring them to Hope!

Be patient and enjoy the process. Gardens take time and effort but are so much fun!

Questions? The internet has a lot of great helpful resources or feel free to contact Andrew Mast at amast@thehopeclinic.org. Find a printable version here.

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Andrew Mast