Keystone Community Garden supplies food kitchens

Every Earth Day for the past fives years, Neyer Properties has held events or educational seminars to promote sustainable lifestyles, but last year company employees decided they needed to give back to the community. So, they built the one-acre Keystone Community Garden outside their office in Evanston. 
 
According to Neyer Properties, a development company that builds or redevelops only LEED-certified projects, community involvement is a big part of sustainability. That's why they used the land they had available as the garden site and recruited company volunteers to maintain it. The garden now supplies OTR and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry with produce. 
 
While many food pantries and soup kitchens are forced to shut down in the summer months because of lack of air conditioning, the OTR kitchen has been serving meals through the heat since 1976. Now serving more than 4,000 meals per week, the OTR kitchen gets a much needed produce delivery of peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and squash after 50 volunteers to tend the garden through the summer. 
 
“We rarely receive fresh produce to prepare for our meals or to distribute to our guests in their groceries,” says Patricia Wakim, executive director of the OTR and Walnut Hills Kitchens and Pantry. “We are absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of the produce from the Keystone Community Garden again this year.”
 
This is the second year that the OTR and Walnut Hills kitchen will receive the produce from Keystone Community Garden. Volunteers log more than 50,000 volunteer hours each year in the effort that is almost entirely sustained through private monetary donations and donations from local grocery stores and restaurants. 
 
"It's just the right thing to do," says Karman Stahl, director of asset management for Neyer Properties. "Doing something for those that have less is just something that is necessary to our company."
 
By Evan Wallis
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