Community garden helping family in need
Harka Maya Monger is used to working hard to feed her family healthy food.
Every summer she spends a few hours each week at one of Fargo’s community gardens where she carefully nurtures plants that produce green beans, potatoes, tomatoes and more. When the harvest is ready, she and others share the bounty.
Gardening is a skill she learned in the country of her birth, Bhutan.
“There we grew a lot of our food,” she says. “Here it’s harder to find a place to garden.”
Harka and her family – her husband and three children ages 12, 8 and 2 – are vegetarian. Rice and fresh vegetables make up the bulk of their diet. But fresh produce costs more than buying processed and packaged foods, Harka says.
Her husband works fulltime in manufacturing while Harka cares for their children. They receive some SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. Those dollars are often spent before the month ends.
To stretch their food budget, Harka works in the community garden. She also visits the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo every other month.
Food assistance and groceries from the food pantry help alleviate worries about how Harka will put food on the table each month.
“It helps my family a little bit more,” she says. “Otherwise, it can be difficult to feed my children.”
At the food pantry, Harka looks forward to getting rice and milk. When the family can get milk, Harka will boil it and make yogurt. Sometimes she’ll pickle vegetables to serve with it.
The best time of year is late summer and fall when fresh produce is readily available. Between the community garden harvest and food pantry, Harka has a couple of months each year when she doesn’t need to purchase potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and beans from a grocery store.
Winter months, however, are more challenging for the family.
“Everybody eats a little less when it’s more expensive to get fresh vegetables,” she says. “Good food is important for the health of my family.”