Mitzvah Garden

Using a KCP&L Microgrant to help turn unused land into fertile ground for feeding those in need.

Mitzvah GardenOn his way to work, Peter Loftspring heard a KCUR radio announcement that KCP&L was offering Microgrants to help fund local environmental projects. It was just what Mitzvah Garden needed to add four solar panels and battery storage that would power a pump to distribute collected rainwater into the garden’s drip irrigation system.

Peter called Andrew Kaplan, one of the Garden’s founders, and they wrote the grant request. Several weeks later, they learned they had received their grant.

Mitzvah Garden was created 10 years ago as a way to help the community. “We were really inexperienced at gardening and got a lot of help from Ben Sharda, Executive Director of the Kansas City Community Gardens,” said Kaplan. “Ben taught us, and now we teach others.”

The garden is tended by volunteers of all ages and donates all of its fruit and vegetables to local food pantries. “It’s a living example of Tikkun Olam, or ‘heal the world’, which describes our responsibility to take care of those in need,” he added.

He explained that the garden needs nutrients, pollination, water and power to really thrive. “We’re pesticide-free. The Kansas City Zoo provides Zoo Doo (elephant dung),” he smiled, “and our congregation and neighbors help stock our compost area. Three bee hives host 60,000 bees who work 24/7 for honey. (A sweet deal!) We have 22 300-gallon tanks that collect and store rainwater. And our Micro-Grant will provide the pumping power to make the garden 100% sustainable.”

An all-volunteer workforce harvests and delivers 1,000 pounds of vegetables each week throughout the summer to local food pantries. “So many causes are worthy, but we don’t often get to personally see the joy and hope they bring,” said Kaplan. “The Garden is different. The kids especially love it. They arrive restless and then really get going as they dig the dirt, pull weeds and harvest vegetables. We encourage them to taste the fresh vegetables being harvested. And their eyes light up when they see the gratitude of the people receiving our produce.” 

“We hope Mitzvah Garden will inspire other community gardens to become sustainable,” added Kaplan. “It could make such a difference in the hunger faced by many in this community every single day.” 

Watch our video to see the Garden and learn more.