Libit Glenn (left) and Ellen Kirby - longtime volunteer leaders for the Betty and Jim Holmes Food Bank Garden
Libit Glenn has volunteered at the Betty and Jim Holmes Food Bank Garden since it began in 1998. At the end of a Saturday spring morning workday, she waves to volunteers, “Thank you! Appreciate you being here and helping. Look forward to seeing you next time!”
Glenn was a member of a Centenary UMC Sunday School class when garden founder Jim Holmes asked for volunteers to help with his vision: to grow fresh produce on land at the Children’s Home, now Crossnore Communities for Children, that would be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC to help people facing food insecurity.
“He saw all this land and knew people needed food and said, ‘I can make this happen,” recalled Glenn, who is now President of the Food Bank Garden Board. In 2021, volunteers harvested 7,000 pounds of produce for Second Harvest Food Bank.
Glenn loves spending time on the beautiful farm in the middle of Winston-Salem for many reasons.
“It’s amazing to come to this oasis in the middle of Winston-Salem,” she said. “You meet new people. You do something productive. You get sunshine and fresh air. It’s just rewarding because you know it’s going to help other people.”
“It’s amazing to come to this oasis in the middle of Winston-Salem. You meet new people. You do something productive. You get sunshine and fresh air. It’s just rewarding because you know it’s going to help other people.” ~ Libit Glenn, Food Bank Garden Volunteer Extraordinaire
Glenn has watched transformation of the garden over more than two decades of growth. She’s seen additions of irrigation and black plastic to reduce weeds and ensure adequate crop watering. A tool shed, patio, and port-a-john have increased efficiency and organization at the garden.
Ensuring volunteers know when to pick which crops has reduced waste. Generally, harvest days are scheduled twice a week.
“Okra is right about perfect right there,” Glenn said, holding up her thumb.
Afternoon thunderstorms are a regular occurrence during the summer. Waiting until the next harvest day may render vegetables past their prime.
“We’re more cognizant of having a group of people to be available the morning after a thunderstorm,” she said.
During COVID restrictions, garden organizers started using SignUp Genius to limit group size due to safety protocols. This strategy has actually increased consistent turnout and allowed garden leaders to plan how best to use the help that is available.
“Volunteers have changed over the years,” Glenn said. “It’s amazing how the world works.” A young couple who is new to Winston-Salem found the garden location on Google Maps and has begun volunteering. Some groups sign up as a team-building activity.
“It’s wonderful how grateful Second Harvest is. It’s wonderful to be able to come out here and do something good for someone else. We know there is a need, and we are able to do something about that. It’s just so rewarding. “Come on out!”