Volunteer Spotlight: Rena Geckle

April 5, 2023

As a farmer’s daughter from the mid-west, volunteering on the Food Bank of Delaware’s five-acre farm comes naturally for Rena Geckle. Her father was a grain and livestock farmer in Southern Indiana, and she feels most at peace while spending time outdoors on the farm.

The five-acre Food Bank Farm in Newark consists of a propagation house, four high tunnels (large greenhouse structures), a demonstration garden, bee hives, fruit trees, and field growing space for annual crops. Accomplishing all of the needed tasks would not be possible without volunteers like Rena.

Rena’s been volunteering for more than two years.  “I love working with Kyle, John and Brendan [Food Bank farm team]. It’s gratifying to see young people working in ag,” she says.

When Rena retired from Johns Hopkins in 2015, she was looking for volunteer opportunities. She found the Food Bank of Delaware’s website and signed up online.

She started inside the Food Bank helping to pack produce boxes for the Community Supported Agriculture program, but gravitated outdoors. “It suits me perfectly,” she explains.

Rena spends once a week on the farm. Her days vary, but she helps in all weather conditions. Rena enjoys staying busy in the community education garden. She’s currently working on getting a certificate in ecological habitats at Mt. Cuba Center so she enjoys identifying plants for new growth. “I’ve moved plants from my garden to the garden here at the Food Bank,” she explains.

In addition to the time spent outdoors, Rena enjoys the camraderie of the other farm volunteers. “I enjoy the enthusiasm,” she says. Two volunteers stand out particularly to Rena – Lillian Wang and Rae Perry.

Last year, close to 17,000 pounds of fresh produce were harvested from the farm – this would not have been possible without the help of volunteers like Rena, Lillian, Rae and hundreds of others!

To learn more about volunteering on the farm, click here.


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