FRESH Project providing healthier choices for area


Carol Wagner Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Barbara Mendoza, left, executive director of The FRESH Project, and Kim Ihrcke, program assistant, are at the Education Garden at Church on the Hill in Shawano.

The FRESH Project’s goal is to educate people so that everyone can eat healthy. There are many people in Shawano County who are working to get healthy food to everyone with the Share the Bounty tables.

“We ask all gardeners to plant an extra row and donate it along with extra produce,” said Barbara Mendoza, executive director.

There are six FRESH gardens this year. One on the Ho-Chunk reservation near Wittenberg is working with the native community and the youth. The produce goes back to the community.

The elderly, with help from the project volunteers, take care of the garden at the Ella Besaw Center near Bowler on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation, and the produce goes back to the center.

The Gresham garden is at the home of Jim Redmond. The produce is given to Share the Bounty, along with going to Safe Haven and on every Tuesday to Shawano Area Matthew 25 for its resource day so people can take what they want.

The same is done for the Red River garden of Sue Hennigan.

Nancy Schultz takes care of two plots at the Community Gardens of Green by Zion Lutheran Church in Shawano. Other gardeners there are encouraged to give their extra produce to Share the Bounty.

The Church on the Hill garden in Shawano is under the care of Kim Ihrcke, program assistant, who has the second grade from Hillcrest Primary School come over during a class at summer school.

“This is really a success story,” Mendoza said. “Kim has worked really hard with the kids.”

Ihrcke educates the children about eating their vegetables and encourages them to try new foods, like the child who tried spinach and now asks his mom for it. The kids can watch the vegetables grow.

“I’m a low-key teacher,” Ihrcke said. “They love to water, but they will weed. It’s the favorite part of my summer.”

The produce that is at these tables is available to everyone.

“It’s valuing all people to be healthy and part of the community,” Ihrcke said.

The FRESH Project has three goals: to start a farmer’s co-op of local producers, have a winter farmer’s market, and next year have a mobile food pantry.

Both Mendoza and Ihrcke will be happy to speak to groups about how they can help. They are hosting the July 24 community dinner at First Presbyterian Church with a cookout.

Both women are passionate about the project and said they are in need of more volunteers.

“I believe in serving others,” Mendoza said.

To volunteer or for more information, call 715-526-5206.


Locations of Share the Bounty tables:

• Shawano Area Matthew 25, 213 E. Green Bay St., Shawano

• Safe Haven, 380 Lakeland Road, Shawano

• Shawano Area Food Pantry and Resource Center, 218 E. Richmond St., Shawano

• Culligan, 430 S. Main St., Shawano

• Goodwill, 300 Lakeland Road, Shawano

• Mohican Family Center, N8605 Oak St., Bowler

• Stockbridge-Munsee Food Distribution Center, N8476 Moh He Con Nuck Road, Bowler

• St. Michael’s Catholic Church, N817 State Highway 47-55, Keshena

• St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 240 E. Green Bay St., Bonduel

• St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 407 S. Warrington Ave., Cecil

• Wittenberg Community Center, 208 W. Vinal St., Wittenberg

• 1219 S. Main St., Gresham

• Mama’s House of Hope, 318 E. Garfield St., Marion

• Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, W6106 Navarino Road, Navarino

• Anita Haircut, 309 Cedar St., Tigerton