Grown Here at Home: YMCA community garden used to feed and teach in the Gainsboro neighborhood

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) One of the first things Jonathan Pait does when he gets to work at the Gainsboro YMCA is check on the Community Garden.

“It started as an idea to help the community and to provide educational classes for kids and adults. We began transplanting some seeds during our little chefs program that we have so the kids were actually able to plant the seeds,” said Jonathan, executive director of the Gainsboro YMCA.

The kids don't mind one bit getting their hands dirty.

“They're just amazed to know that vegetables actually come from a garden. So you see kids when they're picking them. You know they're asking questions about, you know, so this was planted by a seed and this came up?” said Jonathan, the executive director of the Gainsboro YMCA in Roanoke.

The Rescue Mission benefits, too. Vegetables from the garden will be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“We provide meals for our guests but we also want to make sure that we have healthy meals and so when we get fresh items it allows us to prepare them appropriately,” said
Helen Ferguson, chief programs officer for the Rescue Mission.

It also cuts down on costs. For every meal served the Rescue Mission only spends 11 cents.

“It really is important for us to have it and our guests really do miss it when they don't get to see it,” Helen explained.

The garden is helping a lot of hometown folks. And it also gives Jonathan a reason to get out in the sunshine.

“To be able to come out here and tie up some tomato plants, or harvest some okra that we have out there. Take about 10 or 15 minutes out of my day to do that. It's a nice little break,” Jonathan said.

The YMCA has also started a box garden program. For $100 the YMCA will build the box garden and put a plaque on it. The garden can be named in memory of someone, or it can be in honor of someone who loves gardening. The box gardens will be placed in the community garden to be used as a teaching tool.

For more information, contact the Gainsboro YMCA at 540-344-9622.