Student volunteers prepare Lord’s Diner garden

Pulling up dead grass and hoeing dirt may not sound like an ideal weekend activity. However, about 30 Wichita State community members chose to spend last Saturday morning doing these activities.

The work was for The Lord’s Diner, a non-profit organization that aims to combat hunger in the community, at its location on South Hillside. The main task for volunteers was to prepare the soil behind the building for a garden.

Volunteers and staff from The Lord’s Diner said they hope produce from the garden will help in providing ingredients for meals that are given to the homeless in the Wichita area.

“Our garden is to supplement our food costs,” said Carissa Yarnall, a driver of The Lord’s Diner food trucks. “We feed about 3,000 people a day, since we have two locations. Also, fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier and cheaper than canned ones.”

Yarnall said the group plans to start planting melons, cantaloupe, honeydew, squash and zucchini around mid-April.

“You know,” she said, “some pretty meaty fruits and vegetables.”

Carol Gibbon, programming chair for the WSU Community Service Board, said the response for volunteering Saturday was encouraging. She said 30 people registered, but more people came.

“So we had more than we anticipated – which is excellent,” Gibbon said. “We [had] several people who [brought] their children.”

Shanda Burch, assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs, was one of those people. Her son, Shayne Swindle, a senior at Valley Center High, and daughter, Thea, a fifth grader at Buckner Elementary, joined her in clearing the soil for the upcoming planting.

“So far, we’ve been getting all the grass up, and the roots,” Thea said. “There was dry dirt that was really hard. I think I even pulled up a part of a tree. It’s better than sitting in my basement playing video games, and it’s a good way to help out.”

Graduate student Pratheek Padira recognized the benefits of giving his time.

“You get to work with a lot of people — a lot of different people,” Padira said. “And there’s free food, free donuts. What else can you ask for?”