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Gardens grant will help feed homeless

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Shenandoah Alms House residents to build five plots

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

MAURERTOWN -- The residents of Shenandoah County's homeless shelter will receive garden-fresh vegetables, thanks to a small grant.

The Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council has awarded a $1,500 grant to the Shenandoah County Alms House. The grant will go toward creating five raised bed garden plots, according to a news release from the council.

"I think it's great," said Sheila Orndorff, executive director for Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter, whose clients are housed in the alms house. "I think it's a great way to get the adults and the kids and the youth all working together. We're excited about it. We just really, really thank them for the opportunity to get this grant and provide this for our clients."

There are nine adults and children staying in the shelter, she said. Structural issues at the alms house have reduced its capacity from 22 beds to 15, Orndorff said.

RC&D Vice Chairman Joan Comanor, who serves on the Shenandoah County Farm task force and an advisory committee, said some master gardeners and representatives of Virginia Cooperative Extension will be advising the county farm on the project.

"We're terribly excited about this, and I think the residents of the alms house are very excited, and with the help of the master gardeners working with them to get it up and running and then [coming] back periodically [to] help with any advice about care, watering, identifying any pests that show up, I think it's a great project," Comanor said. "There's every reason to think that we will have great success this year because we've got some experts lined up to help and they're very enthusiastic. Assuming nature cooperates and we have a great growing season, it should be a great success."

She said special-education students from Strasburg High School will be helping out with the garden. The garden will be a great project for the students, who have worked at the farm before, Orndorff said.

"They've done all sorts of things," she said. "They've cleaned outside buildings out. They've raked leaves. Last year, we worked on budgeting and saving and good practices for interviews."

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