Church offers garden of hope

 PHOTO PROVIDED BY TINA FIGLIUOLO    Tina Figliuolo, director of community relations at the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition; and the Rev. Wes Runk, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Gulf Cove, harvest vegetables from the church garden to help provide food for those the homeless coalition assists.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY TINA FIGLIUOLO
Tina Figliuolo, director of community relations at the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition; and the Rev. Wes Runk, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Gulf Cove, harvest vegetables from the church garden to help provide food for those the homeless coalition assists.

GULF COVE — Tina Figliuolo and the Rev. Wes Runk know the invaluable resource food can be in a rough economy.

Hope Lutheran Church in Gulf Cove is doing what it can on church grounds to help— growing a variety of vegetables to donate to the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition.

“We have 18-plus planters in the garden,” said Runk, the church’s pastor. “Our goal is 40 to 50.”

The garden grows peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, beets, turnips and bok choy.

“We take three loads in a week in eco and plastic bags,” Runk said. “We give them 12 to 14 bags of vegetables a week.”

Runk said the church installed an irrigation system.

“We have maybe 10 or 12 people volunteer on a normal basis,” he said.

The homeless coalition runs a kitchen and a food pantry, the latter of which is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays.

“Fresh produce is a luxury,” Figliuolo, the coalition director, said. “Our chef, Chris Smith, is resourceful enough to cook with what we have into a variety of foods. Any excess vegetables we have will be given to our food pantry.”

Figliuolo said the kitchen needs starchy vegetables like beans and potatoes.    “It’s a blessing and our gratitude goes out to them,” Figliuolo said about the church volunteers. “We’re looking forward to our continued partnership with the church” to help serve the community.

Figliuolo spoke at the church’s jazz Mass Sunday.

The homeless coalition is located at 1476 Kenesaw St., Murdock. Hope Lutheran is located at 14200 Hopewell Ave. For more information about the coalition, call 941-627-4313. For more information about the church, call 941-697-2345.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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