DEL CITY, OKLAHOMA — Melvin Thompson doesn’t dance through the garden rows this July, but he can’t resist strutting just a little bit.
“Cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers,” he calls out as he passes. “We’re blessed with still having lot’s of blooms.”
Four years ago this acreage behind the Del City Church of Christ needed more mowing that hoeing.
But Melvin had just retired from the roofing business and he still thought he needed something to do.
“I’m an admitted workaholic,” he says.
He organized what he thought would be a small community garden.
Then it got bigger.
“I just couldn’t stand all this land not being used and it continued to grow.”
“You’ve got a pretty good plot of land here with good soil,” remarks a visitor.
“Yes we do,” agrees Thompson. “And it’s been treated with many semi-loads of compost.”
Those first few years were tough ones.
The weather was hot and dry.
Some crops withered completely.
But not this year.
“Pretty much everything we planted is doing well,” says Melvin.
This summer Thompson’s ‘green thumb’ sprouted flowers.
He and his small army of volunteers saw a cool May and a wet June bring in big yields.
He tells us, “This past week we harvested over a ton each of turnips and beets.”
Melvin keeps a few vegetables for his own table.
So do his workers.
The vast majority they give away to local charities and families in need.
This year the community garden started a roadside stand in front of the church.
Whoever needs fresh produce gets it.
“We eat what we can and give away the rest,” Melvin smiles.
Thompson doesn’t quite know how many people the Del City community garden will feed.
This summer, it’ll be a lot.
The roadside vegetable stand opens on mornings when volunteers have picked fresh produce.
It’s located at 1901 South Vickie in Del City.