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Groups unite to fight hunger

Contributed photo Knights of Columbus members met with Linda Roles (center), director of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties, at the club's garden. They included (left to right) Jim Korkowski, Bernie Thoennes, Lowell Anderson and Bernie Korkowski, along with dog, "Lucky."1 / 2
Contributed photo Lowell Anderson (left) and Bernie Korkowski show a potato entry, grown in the Knights of Columbus garden, that was judged a grand champion at the Douglas County Fair.2 / 2

Members of the Chesterton Council of the Knights of Columbus teamed up with the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties this summer to give those in need garden-fresh vegetables.

It all began when the members of the Knights of Columbus responded to an offer from Bernie Thoennes, a local farmer, who had land available if anyone wanted to put in a garden - at no cost.

A group from the Knights of Columbus decided it would plant a garden in one of the plots with the intent that the food produced would be donated to a United Way food shelf.

Those involved in starting the project included Bernie Thoennes, Lowell Anderson, Jim Otto, James Korkowski and Mike Ranweiler.

In May, the group planted potatoes - 25 pounds of Norbert reds were cut and planted.

At the end of May, the group who planted the garden saw an article in the Echo Press, "Gardens needed to reduce hunger," about the United Way asking gardeners to help raise vegetables on a plot of land donated for the purpose of working with a master gardener.

In addition, another United Way initiative, "Planting an Extra Row," was started, which asked gardeners to help meet the needs of people needing fresh vegetables.

The Knights of Columbus joined forces with the United Way on its garden project and all produce from the garden has been donated to the United Way.

Lowell Anderson, a member of the Knights of Columbus, said the garden project has been "most successful with a few minor problems of needing a little more rain and some heat," for growing the vegetables.

As of the end of August, the group donated the following vegetables from the garden:

•Romaine lettuce - 36 large heads.

•Cabbage - 103 heads, which were about four to five pounds per head.

•Pok choy - three heads, which were about four pounds per head.

•String beans - 164 pounds.

•Potatoes - 560 pounds, which included a grand champion-winning potato judged at the Douglas County Fair.

•Zucchini squash - 142 pounds.

•Beets - five pounds.

•Onions - five pounds.

•Cucumbers - one and a half bushels.

•Yellow squash - 12 pounds.

•Sweet corn - five dozen.

The fall crop will include about 60 broccoli plants, 40 romaine lettuce plants, two rows of radishes, one row of beets and several rows of rutabagas. In addition, there will be tomatoes, winter squash, pumpkins and muskmelons.

"The Knights of Columbus are most pleased to participate in this project, meeting one of our primary objectives, which is charity to all," said Anderson.