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Summertime Santa

Lucas family enjoys sharing garden bounty with friends, neighbors and the greater High Point community

Mike and Rita Lucas' vegetable garden is a sight to behold - with 10 raised beds, an orchard, herbs and various nut trees, it would be easy to believe they are full-time farmers. "It's Mike's escape, his passion. Instead of going to the gym, he's planting potatoes," Rita said.

Mike is an orthopedic surgeon with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Health Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine, and Rita has been a volunteer with many High Point organizations, including their church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, where they share much of their produce in addition to what they donate to Growing High Point for the Farm to Senior Produce Program, which provides free produce to seniors 51 weeks of the year, or to be sold on Growdega, our mobile market that sells produce at 50% discount to SNAP/EBT participants.

"We learned about the Senior Produce Boxes at Growing High Point's Let's Grow Gala, and we realized they could use every single item. We thought, 'Let's share our good, fresh stuff;" Rita said.

She grew up the youngest of eight children, and gardening was a necessity to feed the family. However, her father also taught her to feed others. "He always shared with the nuns at the convent or new neighbors. Sharing is a beautiful gift."

During the summer, it's hard to find counter space in their home among all the fresh tomatoes, asparagus, leeks, squash, zucchini, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, radishes, Brussels sprouts, lovage, peppers, potatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, kiwi, strawberries and persimmons, not to mention all the herbs and berries. She cans some of what the gardens produce, and their storage room and freezer are overflowing with jars of pasta sauce, pesto, salsa, jams and more.

"Not everybody can drive to the grocery stores to look for the best produce. Plus, they don't make tomato sauce with habanero peppers. We do!" Rita said. "Sharing our food is like being a Summertime Santa Claus - we love it!"

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