Highlighting Tampa

AARP Florida Volunteers Harvest 150+ Lbs. Of Food for Those in Need

Posted on 02/28/24 by Maryanna Antoldi

In Tampa Bay, a small group of AARP Florida volunteers are “planting the seeds” of success, one harvest at a time.

Since 2018, AARP Florida has partnered with VISTA Gardens, a 3.31 acre community garden located in Carrollwood Village, to plant and grow food for those in need. The gardens, once an abandoned water treatment facility, were reclaimed in 2008 by the Carrollwood Village Homeowner’s Association to be a place of community and education for residents of the Tampa Bay area. Now, the gardens have over 60 raised cedar beds for fresh produce and flowers, as well as beehives, nature trails, a compost station, a separate herb garden, and a 2,000 gallon freshwater pond.

AARP Florida’s two garden beds are teeming with produce – from different types of greens and tomatoes to beans, eggplant, turnips, carrots and much more – all due to lead volunteer Ron Conradt and a small band of passionate gardeners. From planting seeds and maintaining upkeep to harvesting and weighing each bounty, our volunteers do it all. This year alone, the AARP volunteer team harvested over 150 pounds of produce! And where does it all go? Ron delivers each harvest to the Village Presbyterian Church in Carrollwood, a partner of Feeding Tampa Bay, to get packed up to those in need. You can’t “beet” that!

AARP Tampa Bay VISTA Garden Harvest

“I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, and we always had a large vegetable garden. Being able to combine my enjoyment of gardening with social interaction and satisfaction of helping others is what motivates me,” explains Ron. “I like knowing that my efforts help provide nutritious food to someone in need, and I like to envision people enjoying the fresh produce from our gardens.” 

The Florida gardening season is still in full swing, and we anticipate this small-but-mighty team of green thumbs to set a new harvest record this year! Not only are they making a difference in the larger Tampa Bay community, but they also built a small one themselves – all “sewn” on a mutual love of making things grow.

Want to get involved as an AARP Florida volunteer? Join us and make a difference in your local community!

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