Already an integral part of the community, Good Neighbor Thrift Store in Navarre is stretching out its helping hand a little further with a garden that ultimately will produce vegetables for the food bank that is set up at the store.
The idea was first contemplated a year ago when a couple of garden boxes were built in the open plot of land behind the store that is located at 9205 Navarre Parkway.
It didn’t go so well, according to store manager Cheryl Fromularo.
“We got one zucchini, maybe two cucumbers and some green peppers,” Fromularo said. “We followed the directions of the master gardener that worked with us but we were overtaken by events, including our mulch being invaded by biting ants and bugs in our tomatoes.”
Fromularo is counting on the story to be much different this year. Three additional garden boxes were built by a Boy Scout troop in January and are already in use.
She only expected one box to be built. The scouts built three and also constructed a compost box and reworked the sprinkler system.
“We learned a lot last year from the experience. You just can’t stick stuff in the ground. This year we are going at it earlier and smarter,” Fromularo said. “We don’t want it to be as much of a lost effort as it was last year. Once we get good at it, we know how much we’ll have to augment the food bank.”
Part of the reason behind starting the garden is to provide those who receive assistance from We Care Mission, which is supported by the money made at the thrift store, a chance to give back a little of what they have been given.
“We want to try and have the people we help give back a little bit,” Fromularo said. “It might be something like weeding or watering the garden. It wouldn’t be a lot of time either, maybe checking on it first thing in the morning or some time during the day.”
Fromularo said she has a lot of plans for the garden and has received a great deal of advice about gardening from an organic gardener who showed up one day asking to help out.
“We have a lot of different things we can try because no one is telling us how much we have to produce in a year,” Fromularo said. “We’re looking for donations, mainly time from people who have experience with gardening.”
She hopes to see the garden expand because there is plenty of land available for it.
“We want to see rows of garden boxes, we want to have trees and even a wildflower garden,” Fromularo said. “Our goal is to make the space work and have people get something out of it. We’re really hoping this becomes, if not a community garden for Navarre, at least a mission for the church, to help support the food bank.”
As for the store itself, Good Neighbor is part of Navarre United Methodist Church and is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Its goal is to continue to meet the needs of the community and is always looking for volunteers who want to take time to do good for others.
Shoppers at the thrift store can find everything from clothing and appliances to toys and books. And all of it is in good condition as only the nicest items are sold in the store.
Donations not used are sold to the Waterfront Mission in Pensacola for a minimal fee and the mission sells the items to a wholesaler, who then sends those items overseas, keeping the chain of helping others intact.
Good Neighbor Thrift Store
9025 Navarre Parkway
Mon-Fri: 9-4; Sat. 10-2