Donation garden continues contributions to food pantry in Yordy’s wake

Donation+garden+continues+contributions+to+food+pantry+in+Yordys+wake

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Growing tall and green, food crops begin harvesting in South’s Donation Garden (right). Seniors Maddie Schumacher and Anna Hofmockel (left) have been instrumental in brining the garden to fruition in order to prepare it for donation to the Northfield Food Pantry.

John Schurer, asst. news editor

South’s Donation Garden is ready for harvesting after a summer of planning and organization. Jeff Yordy, long-time Horticulture teacher who passed away last spring, began the Donation Garden to help feed struggling families in the community and to teach students how to properly nurture a garden.

Seniors Anna Hofmockel, Maddy Schumacher and Kee Joo Nam have made a difference in the community by contributing their time and effort to the garden, according to Jennifer Friedmann, Horticulture teacher and Donation Garden sponsor.

“It started during finals week,” Hofmockel said. “We planted all the vegetables and then we had to mulch the whole garden. I had to drive all the way to Arlington Heights to buy mulch because Mr. Yordy used to swear by Cocoa Bean Hull Mulch. They don’t sell it anywhere else.”

During the beginning of summer, Hofmockel would often work in the garden alone due to others’ busy schedules.

“I would spend anywhere between three and twelve hours weeding every week,” Hofmockel said.

The only option at that point was to tend to the crops and wait for them to grow, Hofmockel explained. Chalet Nursery annually donates seeds to the garden, which, in turn, produces food for struggling families in the district.

“We grow cherry tomatoes, bush tomatoes, eggplants, cucumber, zucchini [and] peppers,” Hofmockel said. “To the outside eye, it seems really small, but it’s a lot to manage and we produce so much from there.”

All of this produce is harvested and then donated to the nearby Northfield Township Food Pantry.

“When Mr. Yordy passed away, I remembered that he had been in charge of the Donation Garden,” Hofmockel said. “A couple weeks later, I asked Mrs. Friedmann who [would take it over].”

At the will of Hofmockel, Schumacher and Nam, the garden was placed under their care. According to Friedmann, the summer project was led by the students.

“[In total], I visited [the girls] about three times,” Friedmann said. “Every couple of days, they would send me pictures of the progress that had been made. They really seemed to have everything under control.”

According to Friedmann, there is a high demand for produce, and nothing compares to locally grown, pesticide-free produce, like that of the Donation Garden. South’s Horticulture students, along with the supervisors, are extremely thankful for all of the assets made available to them.

“The first year that Yordy did [the garden, the students] carried [about] 60 pounds worth of produce that disappeared in less than 24 hours,” Friedmann said. “It was gone.”

“He was a huge fan of lettings kids fail,” Friedmann said. “If they planted something that he knew wasn’t going to work out, he loved watching them do it and watching them see what was wrong with it.”

One purpose of the Donation Garden is to teach students through experiences, Friedmann believes. Trial and error is a theme that recurrently teaches students to learn from their mistakes.

“[We usually recruit] juniors that have some kind of interest in pursuing Horticulture, or they’ve just enjoyed the class,” Friedmann said.

Hofmockel has high hopes for the times to come of not only the garden, but for the students working it. She hopes that they, will learn as much as she did.

“Nobody really knows that it’s there,” Hofmockel said. “I hope that will change in the near future.”

Friedmann believes that without Yordy, the Northfield Township Food Pantry and Horticulture classes at South would not have been the same.

“One seed can feed a hundred people,” Friedmann said. “That one man educated and nurtured thousands of people through things like the Donation Garden.”

Friedmann credits most of the progress with the Donation Garden to the students involved and Yordy, who began this project a number of years ago.

“It takes a visionary like him to see an opportunity that obvious, simple and beautiful, and to take advantage of it,” Friedmann said. “It makes a lot of us, as his colleagues, wonder how many opportunities are just under our noses.”

Yordy’s positive encouragement and life lessons will be remembered, according to Friedmann.

“He was a huge fan of lettings kids fail,” Friedmann said. “If they planted something that he knew wasn’t going to work out, he loved watching them do it and watching them see what was wrong with it.”

Hofmockel recalled a memory in which an Advanced Horticulture student decided that they wanted to grow corn.

“He liked to teach through experience and knew that it wasn’t going to work because corn is so hard to grow,” Hofmockel said.

Friedmann believes one purpose of the Donation Garden is to teach students through experiences. Trial and error is a theme that recurrently teaches students to learn from their mistakes.

“[We usually recruit] juniors that have some kind of interest in pursuing Horticulture, or they’ve just enjoyed the class,” Friedmann said.

Hofmockel has high hopes for the times to come of not only the garden, but for the students working it. She hopes that they will learn as much as she did.

“Nobody really knows that it’s there,” Hofmockel said. “I hope that will change in the near future.”

Friedmann believes that without Yordy, the Northfield Township Food Pantry and Horticulture classes at South would not have been the same.

“One seed can feed a hundred people,” Friedmann said. “That one man educated and nurtured thousands of people through things like the Donation Garden.”