“That sound like breakfast to me. Isn't that awesome?” Patricia Holland rejoiced in the okra she was picking on a crisp, damp fall morning. “Sound like breakfast. Three okras...four okras... That's a breakfast. That's this morning's breakfast,” she laughed.
Holland is a superstar volunteer for Riverwest Food Pantry. She tends the garden just north of Clarke Street, a small strip of land at the end of a church parking lot.
“My mom used to say, my grandmother used to say, you don't work, you don't eat. So we had to work, and work hard,” she said as she proudly looked for ripe vegetables to pick.
Though Riverwest Food Pantry has volunteers giving more than 10,000 hours every year from 60 different groups, Executive Director Vincent Noth notes Patricia Holland is special.
“There's a small cohort of volunteers that go the extra mile and Patricia is one of the people that is self-directed, passionate and here in the 85 degree days making sure none of these plants wither,” Noth said.
This garden, two others like it and an urban farm are critical to the pantry’s mission of bringing more fresh food to people in need. Combined, they grew 10,000 pounds of produce last year.
“Our dream is to have ample, fresh produce for every shopper that comes even on a weekly basis,” Noth said.
Patricia Holland’s story runs even deeper than her volunteerism. She discovered the garden when it was just getting started six years ago, and Holland herself was in line for food at the Pantry.
“I had a time of need, so I feel like I owed them something,” she said. “They gave me food.”
Now they give her an opportunity to share her gift of gardening, and feed others in their time of need. Patricia is always looking for help. For more information on how to contribute or be involved in any way with Riverwest Food Pantry, click here.