GROVELAND — It was a cool morning on Monday as Richard Johnson operated a harvester that was picking string beans and peas in a section of Grove City Gardens on Johnson Road.
The machine made quick work picking the produce from the vines, then filling up a trailer. Nearby, Ronda Cheatham was picking zucchini squash the old-fashioned way — by hand — and filling up buckets with good-sized produce.
It’s harvest time in the Blackfoot Community Pantry’s efforts to feed the hungry in Blackfoot and Bingham County, and it doesn’t get much fresher than the produce that was being picked Monday.
This is the second year the pantry has worked with Johnson’s field, according to Cheatham, director of the Blackfoot organization.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding,” he said.
The Blackfoot pantry is part of a co-op with Grove City Gardens and the Idaho Falls Community Food Basket, with the pantry helping pay for the seed and picking the produce. Weeding is also part of the deal.
On Monday morning, they were working on harvesting yellow and green string beans, peas, and corn.
When everything was loaded up in the field and ready to go, it was taken to the pantry for sorting and bagging at 245 W. Sexton, where it’s distributed from 3-6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
“Every family this week gets two pounds of string beans,” Cheatham said, serving about 200 families.
Last year, between 3,000-4,000 pounds of peas, beans, and carrots were produced, and more is expected this year.
“We’re always looking for people to weed and pick, and we’re always looking for farms willing to join in the effort,” Cheatham said. “We appreciate getting anyone’s excess produce.”
Donations can be dropped off on Wednesdays, or call (208) 557-4286 or email Ronda@communitydinnertable.org to make arrangements.
“This is all for anyone who is struggling and in need,” Cheatham said. “What’s unique about this effort is seeing other people from other areas helping, sharing our faith, seeing how we work together as volunteers. We see people grow and learn, and we consider each other as friends.”