A builder who had a passion for gardening gave extra turnips to a food pantry. His effort escalated to giving away 100% of his family-raised crops
(WBIR-Kingston) Every Tuesday and Thursday folks line up at the FISH Hospitality food pantry in North Knoxville. It's one of several FISH locations in our area. Volunteers help them fill grocery bags with food that's been donated.
One East Tennessee family provides fresh produce to the organization for free.
Sweet white corn grows on land in Kingston J.W. Gibson bought about 30 years ago. He was a well-known builder who had a passion for gardening.
"It started out with a load of turnips. Too many turnips," his daughter Mary Gibson Bell said.
She said he donated the extra turnips from his garden to FISH Hospitality food pantry.
"He grew up hungry. And he said he never wanted to see anyone else go hungry again," she said.
Her father decided to plant a lot more the next season to give away.
"He would not allow not one ear of corn not one tomato to be sold off this farm. It's totally to give to people who need it," she said. "It just started to grow and grow and it continued to grow until he passed away in 2012 and we decided to carry his legacy on. And last year was the biggest crop the farm had produced in corn and it was over 33,000 ears."
When one crop is finished another goes in. So when they've harvested all the corn they'll put in greens.
"We plant so many greens that we take hedge trimmers, weed eaters, and we rake them into the big black lawn bags and we usually gather about 800 bags and that's donated also," she said.
The extended family lives on the property and tends to about 20 acres of farm land. Planting, watering, and harvesting. Tomatoes, okra, peppers, cucumbers, apples, kale and corn.
Each one of these boxes holds at least 600 ears.
"You take the delivery and you go see where it goes and you see all the people who it feeds it's like wow. Out in the field it's like why am I doing it but then you get out there and you see it-- it makes a total different story after that," his grandson Tate Harris said.
July 29th would have been J.W. Gibson's 81st birthday.
"He didn't finish the 8th grade but I look around and as you can look around and see everything that's here he was truly remarkable," Mary said.
His family is carrying on his remarkable vision to feed the hungry.
"That was the one thing that we knew that we would always carry this on as long as we were able we would continue to do this and he instilled it in us," she said. "He instilled it in us that you do for people and your life is better"
The family gives most of the vegetables to FISH Hospitality but also donates to the Love Kitchen and churches.