The Little Kitchen Food Shelf is on the leading edge of a statewide movement towards making healthier emergency food available to needy clients. Grace Gardens (our food shelf garden) produces more than 500 pounds of vegetables and herbs each season. The gardens are located just a few steps to the south past the parking area near the Little Kitchen Food Shelf entrance.
Grace Gardens started in 2011 thanks to the efforts of volunteers and guidance from Diane James and A Backyard Farm. We started with two 4 x 8 ft. raised beds. In our first year we produced over 150 pounds of very fresh herbs, veggies and greens for our food shelf guests. Four more raised beds and trellises were added in 2012.
Grace Gardens were temporarily displaced in November 2013 due to a large-scale project to remove the massive “sea of asphalt” surrounding the building. The plan and renovations for the project were made possible by a generous grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) along with other Grace Center Funding sources. Much of the landscaping was completed before the weather became too cold.
The final landscaping, including the reinstallation of Grace Gardens, will resume in early 2014 as soon as the weather warms. Grace Gardens will back up and running in time for the 2014 planting season. The plan is to transform the former six smaller beds into two large beds. In addition to the vegetable and herb gardens and compost area we’ve had in the past our plans include an outdoor classroom, berry patch, potting shed and more!
Keeping Donated Produce Fresh
The abundant produce grown on-site in Grace Gardens, donated by neighbors, and the Garden Gleaning Project is kept fresh in a walk-in fridge. The walk-in fridge was made possible through a $7,000 United Way grant awarded to The Little Kitchen Food Shelf in 2013.
More than 3,000 pounds of produce is donated to the food shelf during the growing season each year. The walk-in fridge makes it possible to keep our donated produce fresher longer and offer healthy food options to Little Kitchen Food Shelf visitors.