Buckeye Outreach Social Services

Visitors can tour gardens and learn about growing fruits and vegetables during Buckeye Outreach Social Services’ Garden Extravaganza, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, September 14, and Saturday, September 15. (Photos courtesy Buckeye Outreach Social Services)

If the thought of growing your own fruits and vegetables sounds appealing, but you don’t know how to begin, Buckeye Outreach Social Services at 501 E. Mahoney Avenue in Buckeye might have the answer – a Garden Extravaganza, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, September 14, and Saturday, September 15. 

“We have 90-some raised beds,” said Imelda Ramos, who manages the B.O.S.S. gardens. “We can grow anything.”

Indeed, depending on the season, the gardens may have carrots, radishes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, yellow corn, acorn squash, a variety of chilis, watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans or pumpkins.

B.O.S.S. also has a 12-foot-by-10-foot aquaphonic garden.

“Picture two tanks in the pool, and in one of them we put goldfish and then from that tank the water goes to another tank, a plastic trashcan, that filters the water from the fish. Then it goes into the pool. The fish add proteins and stuff, so plants can grow – vegetables like lettuce, kale, garlic, watermelon and cantaloupe,” Ramos said. “On top of the pool are floating boards that hold little baskets that hold seeds or starter plants. And in two or three weeks you see something growing.”

She said the produce is donated to the Old Faith Community Food Bank and also to members of the drug and alcohol group that meets there on Thursdays. In addition, groups of 20 or so students from area schools visit during the year to see the gardens.

Tours of the gardens will be offered every hour during the Garden Extravaganza, as well as raffles and door prizes. Children’s activities will include planting vegetable and flower seedlings to take home. Ice cream and nachos will be offered for sale to raise funds to purchase seeds for next season.

“This is the first time we’re doing this, and we’re hoping to do it yearly or twice a year,” Ramos said. “I’m hoping at least a hundred will come this time.”

Ramos, who is a part-time worker at B.O.S.S., said she receives help from others in the office, as well as volunteers from halfway houses and people doing court-ordered community service.

B.O.S.S. is a nonprofit, faith-based organization in Buckeye that offers services to unemployed and underemployed people, veterans, ex-offenders, those in recovery and, according to its website, people who just want to do better.

Services, according to IRS filings, include job referral, training and direct support, such as clothing, utility, and rental assistance. Other services offered include HIV/AIDS support, computer training, after-school programs, GED classes and testing, a free diaper and clothing bank, free 90-day medical equipment lending, youth and adult drug and alcohol classes, and parenting and youth counseling.

Richard Burrell, executive director and founder of B.O.S.S., said, “The mission of B.O.S.S. is to help individuals and families achieve self-reliance.” Burrell is also pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and has served on city of Buckeye committees for the homeless and transportation.

“Whether someone has a green thumb or not, the Garden Extravaganza gives that person an opportunity to get outside and do something outside their normal range of activities,” Burrell added.

Volunteers are needed to help B.O.S.S. offer the Garden Extravaganza. To volunteer or get more information about the event, call 623-386-6365 or visit bosssite.org. Admission and parking are free.