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ST. JOHN — COVID-19 concerns have led Stafford County Extension Agent Amy Collins to shine the spotlight on Spare Produce Garden, a St. John enterprise now headed by Tim Spare.
“What we emphasize in Extension Service, and with healthy eating in general, is that you buy food as local as you possibly can,” Collins said. “This is especially important right now when we’re so worried about the virus being around, although they have not come out and said you can get virus from any type of food.”
Collins recently had vegetables delivered to her door, a new service being provided by Tim Spare who now leads the family business, Spare Produce, founded by his grandfather Richard Spare.
“Home delivery is not really cost efficient,” Spare said. “But I’m concerned that people have safe fruits and vegetables to keep them healthy during this stressful time.”
Spare, a 2009 graduate of St. John High School, grew up helping out in his granddad’s garden and has been managing the business for seven growing seasons since graduating from Kansas State University in 2013 with degree in horticulture.
“I knew from the beginning that this garden is where my heart is,” Spare said.
Spare Produce Garden is one mile south of St. John and half-mile east on Old Highway 50.
“We grow on about seven acres here,” Spare said. “We produce 20-plus varieties of fruits and vegetables.”
Most of the crops from Spare Produce Garden start from seeds and are nurtured through a series of stages before being transplanted to the garden proper.
Crops recently harvested romaine and red leaf lettuce, spinach and asparagus, broccoli and kale, will be ready to harvest in mid-April.
Of these, asparagus and broccoli are specially favored by customers.
“We’re still planting everything like normal,” Spare said. “Other crops will start being available about the middle of May.”
Those will include cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, green onions, beets.
Summer crops are tomatoes, squash, onions, cantaloupe and watermelon will be harvested throughout the summer.
Spare said under normal circumstances other family members help at regional Farmers Markets where most business is usually conducted.
Information about home delivery services in the St. John and Stafford areas is posted on Spare Produce Garden Facebook page.
“It’s not economical, but we’re helping customers out,” Spare said. “We’re looking forward to another good year and grateful to be able to provide nutritious food to help keep families healthy.”