Desert Tree Farm's Vegetable Garden Feeds Many at St. Vincent de Paul

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is dedicated to feeding, clothing, housing and healing individuals and families in our community who have nowhere else to turn for help. As important, they provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers to serve their neighbors in need and ALCA member Desert Tree Farm has been doing just that for more than five years.

John Augustine, owner of Desert Tree Farm, has reserved an acre and a half on the 81 acre farm in South Phoenix to grow winter and summer vegetables.  I was able to sample the naturally grown winter produce which consists of kale, carrots, cilantro, cauliflower, beets, onions, bok choy, leeks, spinach, garlic, and a large variety of lettuce that is made available to the 90 employees and surrounding neighbors.  The remaining hundreds and hundreds of pounds of produce is donated to St. Vincent de Paul.  With 340 days of growing season, the same recipients enjoy the summer crop of tomatoes, an assortment of peppers, squash, cucumbers, and many types of melons.

The food program at St. Vincent de Paul has been always been dependent on charitable donations and the service of community members who staff the largest commercial kitchen in the United States. The local staff set a goal of a weekly delivery of 1000 pounds of fresh produce. David Smith, chief operations officer for St. Vincent de Paul (and former Maricopa County manager) manages their very own garden which provides a large supplement to the donated items.

Desert Tree Farm’s production manager Brian Gould oversees not only the entire nursery but the planting and harvesting of the garden.  It’s not just the employees and David Smith hard at work collecting the produce, it’s a family affair.  What better way for John’s grandchildren to learn where food comes from than to give them a knife and have them pitch-in.

Because of the generosity of John Augustine and the Desert Tree Farm family, these fresh naturally grown vegetables are so beneficial in the diets of over 4,500 individuals that eat meals at St. Vincent de Paul each day.