Scappoose man helps senior center feed the hungry
RSVP Volunteer of the Month helps grow food for fellow seniors and the needy
LeRoy Schmidt has a green thumb and a big heart.
Schmidt, a certified Master Gardener, is one of a handful of volunteers whose gardening skills are helping to feed people across the county.
Twice a week, Schmidt and others tend the 1-acre garden at the Scappoose Senior Center, often times picking ripe crops straight from the garden for the centers chef to use that day. Crops from the garden are used in the senior centers community meals and its Meals on Wheels program. Leftover fresh produce also gets donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Scappoose.
Schmidt estimates he and other volunteer gardeners produced about 3,000 pounds of food from the centers garden last year.
Right now weve got lettuce thats up, radishes, onions, peas, Schmidt said. Weve got a bunch of cabbage and broccoli and cauliflower starts. Last year we had about 80 tomato plants, lots of corn.
Cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, spinaches and chard are also among the hearty harvest items from the garden.
Hes not the only one helping to harvest food, but Schmidt, a retired cabinet maker who worked for Oregon Health & Sciences University for 28 years, was recently named Volunteer of the Month by Columbia Countys Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP.)
Its a community need. It really is, he said. The people appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables. As much as we can supply, we have very little that is left over each day.
Well just go in and ask the cook, What do you need today? Then well go out and get it and they can prepare it for a fresh meal that day.
Schmidt said hes been helping to tend the garden for a few years now. Hes also been called upon to help with mechanical repairs and other fix-it jobs at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Scappoose.
He said he decided to lend his skills and time to the senior center after hearing the previous volunteer gardener had health issues.
Its a big undertaking, but its a rewarding undertaking, as well, he said.