The sunny days and warm temperatures at the end of 2015 were replaced in January with frost and more rain than we really needed. Despite the many days of inclement weather, many hearty souls braved the cold and were out in the fields harvesting crops for Oasis. Were you one of them? Thank you so much for sacrificing your comfort for the health of others.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day was spectacular! Although the temperature was below freezing, your warm hearts harvested 1300 pounds of Bok Choy, kale, rutabagas, cabbage, turnips and greens! It was indeed an acknowledgement of Dr. King’s dream.
Many thanks to the 23 members of the Bonner Leader Program of College of Charleston and their coordinator Kirk McSwain. They volunteered to harvest bok choy at Rosebank farms, but our faithful Oasis gleaners had already signed up! The Bonner Leader Program volunteers graciously agreed to Plan B: working in the Fields to Families Garden in Moncks Corner. All was in readiness for this event when on Sunday, the rains came to Moncks Corner that weekend and washed away all hopes of accessing that garden, so Plan C had to be found and implemented. The farmer at the Bowman farm was gracious enough to enthusiastically open his farm to these very adaptable leaders of tomorrow, and off they went on MLK, Jr. Day, in the frost of the morning, to Bowman, South Carolina, to harvest 840 pounds of kale, mustard greens, rutabagas, and turnips at that far away place. They then delivered 680 pounds to Tricounty Family Ministries and Destiny Café and Fresh Future Farm in the North Charleston Food Desert and we shared 160 pounds with Fields to Families for their food pantries.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON, BONNER LEADER PROGRAM VOLUNTEERS
Meanwhile at Rosebank Farm, our dedicated OASIS volunteers were harvesting bok choy and cabbage. The 505 pounds of produce harvested at Rosebank were shared with the Residents of the North Charleston Food Desert and agencies of Fields to Families. We are most grateful to our regular volunteers and the volunteer group from College of Charleston for providing so many hungry people with fresh vegetables. The total amount harvested was 1345 pounds of fresh produce that equates to almost 1100 meals! Great work volunteers! We hope all those who participated in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Remembrance will continue to help in the fields on many occasions and bring friends and family to participate, too.
CUTTING CABBAGE AND BOK CHOY AT ROSEBANK FARM 505 POUNDS PACKED UP AND READY FOR DISTRIBUTION
As mentioned above, part of everything that OASIS gleans is distributed to the Destiny Café, a “pay-as-you-can” café in North Charleston that provides meals for any that comes into their restaurant. Diners pay what they can for the meal. No one is excluded. Envelopes are given to the diners and they put in it what they can afford. At Destiny Café all customers are treated equally to healthy, nourishing food. RaGina Saunders, chef and manager of the café has a ‘work for food’ program and offers indigent people the opportunity to donate an hour of work for a meal. She nourishes not only their bodies but also their self-respect and gives them hope for the future.
Another program supported by OASIS is the Fresh Future Farm. It is organized and run by Germaine Jenkins. When I first met Germaine many years ago, she was the Chef at the Cannon Street Y and would come out to the fields with her son to harvest vegetables. She knew how to get children to ‘eat their veggies’ She ground up zucchini and put it in the spaghetti sauce! What child doesn’t love spaghetti? She has always been an inspiration to all who meet her. Now she is an inspiration to all of us who work so hard to provide fresh food for those who do not have access to it. Germaine has established a nonprofit farm to bring fresh produce to the residents of the North Charleston Food Desert at a reasonable cost, making fresh food available at affordable prices. She transformed a bare lot in the City of North Charleston and turned it into a farm that grows organic produce. Oasis supports her efforts. . Please Log onto http://freshfuturefarm.org and read the remarkable journey of this North Charleston resident who has done so much for her community and see why Oasis through your efforts, supports her commitment to the population that we serve.
HELPERS & RAGINA SAUNDERS (LEFT) DESTINY CAFÉ
Saturday, January 30 was our final gleaning for the season at Robertson’s Garden. In closing, here is the message from Jill Levy, Field Leader for OASIS. “Thank you to all our last minute volunteers… a beautiful day and a great turnout and such nice people! Thank you Mr. R, our farmer, who is so generous and welcoming! We harvested 150 pounds of Alamo greens and 385 pounds of rutabagas to distribute to those in need of fresh produce.”
Al and Martha Robertson have been our gracious hosts at their garden for eight years. On February 13, 2009, Al called Fields to Families and offered to grow vegetables for us. It was the sweetest Valentine’s Day gift! He has been supplying us with fresh produce and many other amenities since that phone call! Thank you Al and Martha for your generosity and making such a huge difference in the lives of so many people.
Sidi Limehouse at Rosebank Farms has supported gleaning efforts since 2000, probably before that! His generosity too is boundless and we appreciate his willingness to share the bounty of his harvest with such an open hand. His big heart and quick wit is always open to the needs of others and he will share whatever produce is available. Thank you, Sidi, for your long time commitment to the needs of all people.
Both of these gentlemen have cared about those who have so little. We are grateful to them and to other farmers who have come on board to support the mission of both Fields to Families and Oasis to provide fresh vegetables to those who cannot provide it for themselves. Kudos to them and to all our volunteers that labor under all kinds of conditions to make sure that others have the same healthy foods we all enjoy..
Although it is unlikely that we will glean in the month of February, we are ever optimistic that we will be pleasantly surprised. This is the season when farmers turn over their fields, perhaps take a short vacation before they plan the crops for the year and spring planting begins. Then the cycle begins anew!
Thank you so much for your continuing support of Oasis and their mission to provide an oasis in the food desert of North Charleston. Enjoy the lovely weather and plan to begin again in March, bringing with you friends and families and especially your enthusiasm.