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Lehigh Acres community garden grows produce for pantries

Empty food shelves at local stores are a new sight for most Americans, but it has revived an idea that dates back to World War II, and the benefits go beyond consumers just having fresh food.

There’s no shortage of fresh produce at Healthy Harvest Community Farms in Lehigh Acres. Lush greens and bright red tomatoes are cared for by Jorge Acosta and volunteers, then donated to local food pantries.

Acosta wants everyone to find their green thumb during the coronavirus pandemic, and start a “Victory Garden,” a concept that was first implemented during WWII.

“Nowadays you can hopefully skip a visit going to the supermarket by going to your own backyard by picking some vegetables,” Acosta said. “Maybe a fresh head of lettuce, something that you like to eat.”

Acosta said gardening keeps you away from the craziness of COVID-19, both physically and mentally.

“It’s saved me and my family quite a few visits to the supermarket.”

Healthy Harvest Community Farms donated 34 bouquets of sunflowers to Hope Hospice Friday. Credit: Jorge Acosta.

Acosta shared his easiest veggies to grow at home.

“I would stick to radishes, arugula and a lot of leafy greens. Tomatoes and peppers tend to be finicky and tend to have a lot of specific requirements,” he said.

A home garden would promote sustainability and healthy habits.

“It would not only help the environment, the economy … fresh produce is something that you will actually be very thankful for in the future.”

Healthy Harvest Community Farms donates hundreds of pounds of produce to local food pantries.

The Lehigh Community Services pantry is open Monday and Wednesday mornings from 8:45 to 11:15 am only. The pantry at Faith Lutheran Church takes appointments for Mondays and Thursdays. Call (239) 369-6177.

Credit: Jorge Acosta.
Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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