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Community garden expected to save Salvation Army $40,000

Fresh produce delivered to various organizations, social services director says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A group of Auburn volunteers are getting their hands dirty tending a community garden, and local food closets are reaping the benefits, which include a $40,000 savings. The Auburn Rotary Club, Auburn Salvation Army and a group of other local residents spend time several days a week picking carrots, corn, potatoes and more from a two-thirds-of-an-acre garden on Virgil Traynor’s property in North Auburn. Angela Atteberry, a member of the advisory board for the Auburn Salvation Army, said the garden started three years ago. Atteberry said when she initially toured Traynor’s garden, he said he was looking to help the community by donating the vegetables, but didn’t know how to distribute them. “The fact that we hand out produce and staples to the community, I saw a distribution point,” Atteberry said. “I came and he said, ‘Well, come take what you like.’” Traynor said the garden was a project started by five Auburn Rotary members who were looking to help the community. “There were five of us that were looking for something to do, three of us that stayed with it,” Traynor said. “(The Salvation Army) tells us they have no problem getting it to needy people, which is our goal.” The garden grows a variety of fresh food including tomatoes, beets, carrots, squash, cucumbers, peppers, egg plants, corn, string beans, potatoes, broccoli and more. The operation doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides, Traynor said. This year alone the garden has provided 5,000 pounds of produce to the Salvation Army, including 530 pounds of red potatoes, Traynor said. Atteberry said the garden produced 12,000 pounds for the Army last year. Traynor said a conservative estimate for the value of all the produce is $40,000. “Which, by the way, saves the Salvation Army that money,” Atteberry said. “Financially it’s a huge blessing to us, because we don’t have to budget to go buy the food.” According to Michelle Fish, social services director for the Auburn Salvation Army, the food is not only going to the Salvation Army food closet but also to Elijah’s Jar in Foresthill, Sierra Reach Ministries in Applegate and the Colfax Salvation Army. Fish said produce is also expected to be delivered to the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet in the future. Sandy Bassett, president of the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet, said the organization receives donated produce now and will be happy to receive more. “We’ll be delighted to receive it, because we give it out as fast as we get it,” Bassett said. “Having fresh vegetables and fruit is the best thing we can provide to the people. It’s much healthier than canned food.” Traynor said several members of the community and local companies have donated to the effort, including Eisley Nursery, Don Robinson Sand and Gravel, an anonymous donor who gave $5,000 to Auburn Rotary that went toward building a hoop house for the garden’s tomatoes and more. Kathie Remaley, who volunteers in the garden, said it’s a great feeling to give back to the community she calls home. “When you are invested in the community, you want to give back regardless of what your position in the community is,” Remaley said. Atteberry said the tough economy and the rising number of those in need are the reasons why the garden needs to keep going. “This enables us to continue to provide to people’s needs,” she said. “It’s the hearts of the core people that work here that keep this going. It touches your heart.” Bart Ruud, a member of Auburn Rotary, said he likes the fact that the fresh produce means a healthier diet and possibly better overall health regime for those who eat it. Atteberry said those interested in helping in the garden as well as transporting the produce to the Salvation Army food closet on Sutter Street, can call her at (530) 885-6557. Atteberry said she hopes the garden inspires others in the community to start similar projects. “If enough people decided to do this, our community could be well fed,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com