University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener:
Homeless Shelter's New Garden Sprouts Growth for Mind and Body

A Collier County Success Story

A shelter for the homeless and food pantry to anyone in need, St. Matthew's House in Naples provided more than 160,000 meals in 2009. St. Matthew's volunteer and gardening enthusiast Steve Kitchen had an idea to create a vegetable garden, not only to provide fresh food for the program, but also as a way for the shelter's residents to learn new skills.

With the help of the Collier County Extension office, Master Gardener Chuck Rey, and many others, Kitchen created the "Garden of Hope."

Thanks to donated building supplies, plants, and the efforts of community volunteers, the garden features five 6-by-20-foot garden plots that contain a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The objective is to provide shelter patrons a break from day-to-day obstacles by donating their time working in the garden. A side benefit is providing a sustainable way to produce fresh food for the shelter's kitchen and pantry.

Plants that will attract butterflies and bees are being donated to complete the natural landscape of the gardens. The Collier County Extension office provided informational education in the form of hands-on demonstration to residents.

As a result of these efforts, the St. Matthew's House gardens are sprouting new growth for both mind and body.

Learn More

For more information, contact: Robert Halman, County Extension Director, Collier County Extension


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