Philbrook Museum To Grow Vegetables For Food Bank

Thursday, May 7th 2009, 4:55 pm
By: News On 6

By Rick Wells, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Community Food Bank will receive garden fresh produce this summer and fall from an unexpected source.

The Philbrook Museum, famous for the quality of its art, may soon be equally famous for the quality of its tomatoes.

The Philbrook Museum of Art is blessed with spectacular European style gardens. One of them was going to lie dormant this summer until the garden manager thought, "Why not plant vegetables?"

"It'll encompass a lot of different veggies," garden manager Melinda McMillan said. "Everything from okra, sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers -- all the normal ones."

Also, watermelon, cantaloupe, beans, eggplant and pumpkins.

All the produce will go to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

"It's the right thing to do," McMillan said.

Cindy Stevens with the food bank says its workers are thrilled.

"It's beyond our imagination," Stevens said.

The food bank's resources are not growing as fast as the number of clients it serves, so this fresh produce offers a real opportunity.

The vegetable beds are still full of flowers. Down in the green house, the seedlings for the peppers and the corn are sprouting and will be transplanted as soon as the beds are cleaned out.

"It's not going to be your grandma's row of corn and row of beans," McMillan said.

There are 3,600 square feet of space throughout the south garden, and McMillan has a plan of what goes where. It will very much resemble an English or French kitchen garden.

Visitors later this summer will walk past rows of corn and beds full of tomatoes and peppers. It is a true collaboration turning vacant flower beds into food for the hungry.

"A great way to make lemonade out of lemons," McMillan said.

Seedlings will be transplanted from the green house to the garden in a couple of weeks and should produce vegetables through the fall.