Garden located near Adams and Sycamore

Volunteers with the Victory over Hunger Garden program in Hannibal are gearing up for a third year, but unless more workers are found the program, which has grown and donated more than 1,100 pounds of produce, could end.

The bulk of the produce grown has been donated to the First United Methodist Church's Loaves and Fishes food ministry.

"People (served by Loaves and Fishes) really appreciate the fresh produce. They are always asking when the next crop is coming in, especially the tomatoes," said Gordon Ipson, founder of the Victory over Hunger Garden program. "If they appreciate having it and we can get people to come and work and produce it..."

A primary source of labor for the garden during its first two years has been the Kids in Motion (KIM) program, which supplies summer employment opportunities to Hannibal youngsters. But once the KIM program wraps up the workload for the remaining garden volunteers is almost too much.

"There were just four people doing everything and we just couldn't keep up," Ipson said.

During a recent organizational meeting for year three of the program Ipson said they "either get some more people to help or call it quits."

Ipson has a labor pool that he would like to access.

"Ideally we would like to get people who need some of it (produce) to come down and produce it and in return take some of the produce directly home from the garden."

Ipson realizes that reaching the Adams and Sycamore garden site presents a challenge for many people.

"One of the biggest problems that we looked at initially was transportation; getting people to come down to a central location," he said. "The vision of the Victory over Hunger Garden when it first started was to try to get churches, schools and other groups to each plant small gardens in different locations throughout the city so that people who need the produce could walk to a location. But it (program) got funneled down so we decided to go with one site the first year. We were never able to move beyond the pilot site."

Even if the garden portion of the food-growing program should end after this year efforts to help feed Hannibal's hungry will continue.

"We are still going ahead with efforts to get people to plant fruit trees and make that harvest available," Ipson said. "That will take less week-to-week work."



danny.henley@courierpost.com