Tag Archives: Theresa Meers

Pantry Produce Plot: More than Honors Work

To complete an A with Honors project for her Hospitality degree, Parkland College sophomore Del Jacobs has been working with Parkland Horticulture faculty this summer to plant a garden for the Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland.  She shares the process and her progress below. As a student, Del’s exemplary efforts in sustainability and feeding the hungry are well documented; the garden project is a continuation of her drive to serve. Parkland is proud to train those with a heart to help.

 

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I approached Theresa mid-spring about getting help from the Horticulture students to plan and plant a garden to feed 30 families. The Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland feeds an average of 30 families at each distribution.

Theresa’s class ran the numbers and figured out what to plant and how much to plant. In May, before my trip to Morocco, I helped Theresa and her staff plant the garden. Unfortunately, I was unable to monitor the garden for the first six weeks, and the weeds got very large and deep. Therefore, the garden doesn’t look pretty, which is why there are no pictures of it.

I began to coordinate volunteers to help me weed. We began by meeting every Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. to pull weeds. We weren’t making much progress, so I added another day. We now also meet on Tuesdays from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.  So far, I have had nine volunteers; most have joined me once. My most faithful volunteer is Thor Peterson, sustainability coordinator at Parkland.

In spite of the problems, I have been able to harvest approximately 450 pounds of produce!

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I am also providing recipes to the pantry clients. I try to furnish recipes that use more than one vegetable from the garden along with nonperishable
items available at the pantry.

As the season moves on and the summer vegetables are harvested, we will be planting vegetables to harvest in the fall.

Lastly, I began working with Dawn Longfellow, Wesley Food Pantry’s operations manager, on a name and graphic for the garden. Dawn is still working on the graphic, but we have decided on the name: “Parkland’s Pantry Produce Plot.” I’m hoping this project will continue for many years, and I plan to be involved past the end of my A w/Honors project.

[Theresa  Meers is an associate professor of ag/horticulture at Parkland.]

 

It’s Plant Sale Week at Parkland

The end of the spring semester brings chaos for many, but it also brings the classroom to the community in many ways. Last weekend’s Motorsports Car Show, the Hospitality department’s Cinco de Mayo lunch, and this week’s Greenhouse Plant Sale showcase how our students engage with the community, and show the community the type of work our students have been doing.

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I stopped at the Greenhouse to buy a few things, and had a nice conversation with one of the students working there. Joseph Jessee is excited to be transferring to the University of Illinois soon to continue his studies in crop science.  He had high praise for our instructor, Theresa Meers, who coordinates the popular annual Greenhouse Plant Sale.  I asked Theresa a few questions to find out more about the sale.

Q: What is the difference between the Parkland Plant Sale and a local nursery selling plants?

A: The students have been involved in the planning, seeding, growing, and now the sale of the plants, so it’s been a learning experience from the beginning. We have a very small selection of plants compared to the local nurseries, so we are not competing with them. Some of the plants we tried did not even make it to the point of being able to sell, which is a learning experience in itself.

The funds go into the Ag Club account to help pay for student activities throughout the year, and for student competitions.

Q: What role do students play in the plant sale?

A: Students have been involved from the planning phase, specifically through [the courses] HRT 270, AGB191, and AGB 291. Selling the plants is the reward of all their hard work. They will act as salespeople and answer customer questions. 

Q: What kinds of plants are available for sale?

A: Because the students choose which plants to grow, each year is different. This year we have lots of hanging baskets and annuals, plus some veggies and tropical plants. There is a limited selection of perennials this year.

Q: What are your most popular plants?

A: Garden vegetables are in high demand this year. With the cooler than usual weather this spring, many people haven’t planted their gardens yet and are looking for veggies. But last year it was a warm spring and we had trouble selling all our veggies. So that varies from year to year, too.

Q: What new initiatives are you planning for this growing season?

A: We are hoping to get a planting in the land lab to supplement the sweet corn that has already been planted on campus. In the red  barn (near S building), we are working towards a produce stand for items grown in the land lab.