Suzanne Leyerle could hardly contain her joy in calling to share the great harvest — the obvious and the unanticipated — stemming from Let’s Grow Akron’s gardening program for local youth, “Harvest of Hope.”
The retired Akron Public Schools teacher, who also teaches water safety for the American Red Cross, said several of her students were so awash with excitement over the gardening skills they honed that “they were hurrying to leave the pool” on the days Harvest of Hope convened.
Now Leyerle is a steady customer of Harvest of Hope’s farmers market, which ends this week with the start of the school year. The final day of selling will be 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the one-acre garden site of mostly raised beds, at Miller and Main streets.
Lisa Nunn, in her first year as children’s activities coordinator for Let’s Grow Akron/Harvest of Hope, said 17 children ages 8 through 17 began gardening in earnest at the end of the school year.
“Because it was mid-June when we started, we did more transplanting than seeding, although we had a couple of families do some seeding before the program began,” Nunn pointed out.
The young gardeners — a near equal number of girls and boys — have worked diligently from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday come rain or shine since then, weeding, watering, doing everything else needed of them, and now harvesting and selling, Nunn continued.
It’s been a real learning experience about produce — squash, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, collard and mustard greens, cucumbers and eggplants. “They also learned teamwork and entrepreneurial skills. And we had a volunteer from Children’s Hunger Alliance teaching nutrition,” Nunn said.
Participants also had to keep sign-in sheets, recording their hours.
At the end of this week, they will be rewarded for their hard work and dedication with a paycheck based on sales. Nunn calls it “a delayed gratification.” She is working on arrangements for the harvest to continue now that the young gardeners are going back to school.
Like I’ve always said, people have a far better appreciation of farming and where groceries come from when they spend time on a farm or avail themselves of the opportunity to work the land.
So, congratulations to the gardener graduates of Harvest of Hope. It’s a skill they’ll have for life.
And don’t forget about Friday’s big sale!
Akron’s Barbara Hampton, who serves as genealogist for her family, is desperately trying to connect with local passengers or passenger families from the Orphan Train.
“My mother and aunt came to Akron as children on the Orphan Train,” was how Hampton opened the book on this little-talked about chapter in American history. “They arrived here sometime in 1918 or 1919 from West Virginia. This was during the great swine flu pandemic that swept the country, killing nearly 70,000 people.”
Many children were displaced or lost family to the disease. The remedy was to gather up these children and put them on trains that traveled all over the country. “When the train would pull into the depot there would be people waiting to choose whatever child they wanted,” Hampton said. “Of course the boys went first as they were needed to work on farms.”
“My mom Patsy Timbrook Fast was 5 and her sister Mary Susan Timbrook was about 14,” Hampton continued. “But my aunt lied about her age, saying she was 16 or 18; whatever age she had to be to get a job at Firestone … My mom went to live with a family named Clark in Springfield Township until my aunt came and got her. Up until then my mom thought her name was Honey because that’s what she was called.”
Hampton’s mother — who later went to work at Firestone where she met her future husband, Herbert Kringle Fast — died in 1980 of breast cancer. She was one of 13 children.
Troubling for Hampton and others is the fact there is so little about the Orphan Train movement (1854-1929) in the history books.
Over the years there have been a few Orphan Train reunions around the country. And there is a National Orphan Train Complex Inc. in Concordia, Kan., whose mission is to “collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate knowledge about the Orphan Trains, and the children and agents who rode them.”
For more information, please write: National Orphan Train Complex, 300 Washington St., P.O. Box 322, Concordia, Kan. 66901 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hampton would like nothing better than to see a local reunion of Orphan Train offspring like herself. Interested? Email me at email@example.com.
The Orphan Trains ended with the creation of agencies like Summit County Children Services, charged with the care and protection of neglected and abused children.
Fun for all
This year’s National SuperKids Classic “Fun Run” is planned for Sept. 16 at Derby Downs as previously stated.
However, the fundraiser to help put on the yearly race for disabled children is “open to all who wish to participate,” said Bruce H. Hunsicker, board member and race director for SuperKids. They must be 18 and over.
“This event is not specifically for those with disabilities over the age of 18, although we will and do certainly welcome them and will do our best to accommodate whatever their needs are.”
The race is open to anyone wanting to relive their childhood dreams of racing down the big hill, with the top three drivers receiving a trophy.
Check-in is at noon with the first race at 1 p.m. Cost is $30. For more information, please call Hunsicker at 330-285-7416 or 330-745-9663.
The Y-Lead Board — a group of teen volunteers from Summa Health System responsible for creating service projects to benefit the Greater Akron community — has started a “Little Readers’ Book Drive,” collecting new or like-new books now through Nov. 16 for children preschool age through fourth grade.
All books will be donated to First Book Greater Akron, a not-for-profit organization that provides books to children through community establishments like preschools, day care, after-school and tutoring/mentoring programs.
To be eligible to receive book grants from First Book Greater Akron, the agency must have at least 80 percent of the children it serves come from low-income families or a Title 1 or Title 1-eligible school.
The collection sites are:
• Volunteer Services Office at Summa’s Akron City Hospital, Center for Excellence Building, 95 Arch St., Suite 175, Akron. 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• Volunteer Services Office at Summa’s St. Thomas Hospital, 444 N. Main St., Akron (main hospital entrance, ground floor). 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Child helps children
Big, beautiful bouquets to 11-year-old Allyssa Hagenbaugh, a student at Stow’s Lakeview Middle School, who on her own decided to donate her large inventory of books to families served by Akron’s Ronald McDonald House.
Allyssa — who is super active, playing soccer, baseball, basketball and volleyball and serving on student council — is doing this outreach in keeping with her “Children Helping Children” motto.
The giveaway didn’t come easy for Allyssa as these are cherished books given and read to her over the years by her parents and grandparents. But, according to her, it seemed like the right thing to do.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.