MONROE - When looking for a community service project for her homeroom seminar class, Monroe High School teacher Nicole Adams suggested that students use marigolds and petunias to landscape the grounds at the Salvation Army's Family Manor.
But Judy Hertzsch, the manor's director, offered another idea: How about planting a garden with vegetables to feed residents of the facility?
For the second straight year, vegetables planted by Monroe High students are thriving in a fenced garden at the shelter, 815 East First St.
It is yielding bushels of green beans, squash, onions, eggplant, tomatoes, peas, sweet corn, and watermelon for shelter residents.
While the homeroom students were responsible for last year's crop, this year's garden project was adopted by the high school girls' softball team that is coached by Ms. Adams.
The students held a bat-a-thon to raise $200 for bedding plants that they put into the ground in late May.
Residents, who are allowed temporary shelter for 90 days so they can get their lives on track, took over gardening duties and are caring for the crop.
"This fits in well with our food program," said Maj. Michael Thomas, executive director of the Monroe County Salvation Army.
"Residents benefit from the garden and the food it produces. In return they put in a little sweat equity," he said.
Ms. Adams, a 2001 Bedford High School graduate, said the garden for this year was expanded to 30 feet by 60 feet and the fence was installed to keep animals away from the plants.
"It worked out so well last year that the Salvation Army wanted me to do it again. I thought, 'why not have my softball team do it?'•" she said.
The vegetables supplement meals prepared by cooks who work in the Family Manor, which targets families who become homeless.
Ms. Hertzsch said shelter staff members encourage residents to set goals and get them help in compiling resumes and looking for jobs so they can get into permanent housing.
"I am real excited when they come back and tell me that they have a job," she said.