Education VISTA volunteer Cara Grula

Education VISTA volunteer Cara Grula shows a harvested garden carrot to Luke and Piper Lowe. [Photo courtesy of Youth Garden Project]

Help maintain the gardens at the Youth Garden Project for an hour and a half, then stay for a delicious, home-cooked meal prepared from produce harvested from local gardens. The interactive garden and education nonprofit is hosting Weed ‘N’ Feeds events every other Wednesday, from April through mid-October, at 530 S. 400 East St. 

Three employees from Moonflower Community Cooperative will prepare the July 10 meal, which will be served at 6 p.m. on the Youth Garden Project’s outdoor patio.

“We are planning a summery pasta salad and a kale salad,” said Moonflower Community Cooperative Marketing and Outreach Coordinator Maggie Keating. “Our kale is in season, and we’ll probably add other seasonal veggies. We’ll try and use as much produce as Youth Garden Project has available.”

Cornbread is a possible item on the menu, she added.

“It will all be fresh and local as you can get,” Keating said. “Moonflower is happy to support the Youth Garden Project and its mission of providing healthy and local food to the community.”

Keating will be joined by Moonflower Community Cooperative’s General Manager Derek Whitworth, and another staff member, who all plan to arrive a couple of hours before the meal is served to prep ingredients. Moonflower Community Cooperative is a natural foods co-op for locally grown produce and will supply ripened ingredients for the vegetarian meal, Whitworth said. 

“Since we interact with local growers, we know what’s abundant,” he said. 

Volunteers from Moonflower Community Cooperative participate once a year in the Youth Garden Project’s Weed ‘N’ Feed event. Last year, store employees served kale salad and soup made with lots of local veggies, Whitworth said. 

Kale is currently in season, thus, is on the menu again. Tomatoes, peppers, and basil are also in-season and may be included in the meal. After the meal is created, the chefs will sit down to eat as well.

“It’s a nice way to interact with people who get out and are involved in the community,” Whitworth said. “We always want to support great interactive, local community programs.”

Weed ‘N’ Feeds meals are prepared by volunteer guest cooks from the community. They can be individuals, families, clubs or other organizations.

“Each volunteer chef comes in with their own menu plan,” Youth Garden Project Community Program Coordinator Abby Meyer said. “We work with them to find all the ingredients; the food is seasonal — it’s a wide variety.”

Most of the food used to create the meals does come from the Youth Garden Project’s gardens, with supplemental ingredients coming from the nonprofit’s pantry.

People are welcome to stop by at Weed ‘N’ Feeds events as long as they’re willing to pull weeds before dinner. No advanced reservation is required.

After more than 15 years of serving the meals, “We have a good sense of the number of people who come, and we don’t mind leftovers,” Meyer said. “We welcome anyone and everyone; the meal is free and open. People can come spend an evening and not have to think about (preparing) dinner.”

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