Local food bank grows fresh food - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Local food bank grows fresh food


KIMBALL, W.Va. (PRESS RELEASE)-– Thanks to a recent partnership with West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Service, the Five Loaves and Two Fishes Food Pantry in Kimball, McDowell County is growing fresh food.

Director Linda McKinney recently teamed with WVSU Extension Service to construct an adaptive garden on the food bank's property, where the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor are already evident. Using raised beds, hydroponic tower systems and containers, crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, beans, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and small fruits have been planted and will soon be ready for harvest.

It is a dream McKinney and her husband, Bob, have had since taking over the food bank, which also provides clothing and hygiene items to those in need. 

Now that her dream has become a reality, McKinney plans to use the produce to supplement the items coming into the food bank, giving fresher alternatives to those in need.

Manual help comes from sources such as Build It Up West Virginia, which provides educational work experience for disengaged youth. Currently, four local teens work with the McKinneys, processing donations, stocking shelves and maintaining the facility.

"The potential at the facility is tremendous, especially outside," said Melissa Stewart, WVSU extension specialist. "We've set up a greenhouse and pergolas, created a garden oasis for the local fishermen who fish nearby, and are exploring multiple interactive outdoor opportunities."

The WVSU Extension Service is exploring avenues to increase garden space, install outdoor demonstration areas and place extension educators onsite fulltime. Ideas include expanding the current exercise classes and hosting educational garden workshops.

The space, according to McKinney, is ripe for educational opportunities. "The garden has already brought questions from the community," she said. "People want to know what's growing in these containers or what the tower garden system is all about. And they want to buy my plants!"

For now, produce grown in the garden is strictly for use in the food bank. As the project develops, however, McKinney and Stewart see potential for a produce stand, outdoor café or farmers market.


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