And so were the youngsters who got their second paychecks Friday afternoon, their part of the profit from the Community Garden they started back in February.
One by one, each of the 20 youths got up to get their check from Green’s wife, Gwen, who congratulated them for their hard work in the garden.
The garden project started at Christian Diversity Center on Tinney Street in Talladega wasn’t just about growing produce, though.
The Greens connected with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System through Wanda Jurriaans, coordinator for the Talladega Extension Office.
There were workshops on operating a business and becoming an entrepreneur, the youngsters gained experience selling their produce at the stand built next to the garden and they learned about giving as well.
Much of the produce was given away to people Green knew needed the extra food.
So far, there have been 125 bushels of tomatoes harvested, and Green makes it clear, “and that’s bushels, not baskets.”
More than 40 bushels of beans and bee plucked from the garden and the okra is so plentiful the garden workers can barely keep up with it.
Fat ears of silver queen corn are still popping out in the garden and the peppers have produced at a huge rate.
“It’s less than an acre and we can barely keep up with it,” Green said. “I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”
Green attributes the garden’s success to the method chosen for the garden.
With help from Extension experts and the Coosa valley Rural Development Office, the garden was planned using a plasticulture approach.
The method uses prepared beds that are covered with plastic and underneath, there’s an automated watering and fertilizing system.
The method has produced at least three, if not four times more harvest than a friend’s five acre field, Green said.
“We have less than an acre here,” he said.
There are plans to enlarge the project next year, Green said the group will probably plant an additional five acres.
Planning the project in February, Green said he has concerns that young people especially don’t have the skills they need to help feed themselves.
That, especially in uncertain economic times when Green said he already knew of plenty of people who needed help getting food, spawned the idea.
“And now, here we are, handing it out right and left,” Green said.
The gardeners are already preparing for fall crops, there’s a bed prepared for putting in about 500 collard plants, Green said.
Youths in the program this summer included Jessi Marbury, JaMichael McCain, Shone Robinson, Ron’Teriuz Headen, Cameron Pickens, Alexis McKinney, Che’tasia Boyd, Shalandria Harris, Tavarius West, Sabrina Kelly, Jessica Marbury, Josh Wilson, Alice Whitson, Demetrius Green, Cedric McKenzie, Mateshia Kelly, Shunteika Truss, Victor Wilson, Micole Davis and Terrance Green.
Green’s excited that the plants are still producing, and points to the line of tomato plants loaded down with fruit.
He doesn’t worry that too many of the tomatoes will go to waste.
“Those green tomatoes, they’re like caviar down here, and definitely at my house,” he said. “My wife would have them every day.”