By Marielle Mohs

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) – PROP food shelf in Eden Prairie is just one of many food shelves across the area making a transition to offer healthier, fresher products, but they are growing most of their fruits and vegetables right in their backyard.

Back in 2017, volunteers built a garden behind the PROP food shelf. The volunteers continue to maintain it on a daily basis.

Kelli Steidele, PROP marketing director, says this has all been inspired by their customers’ needs.

“They have said for the last 4-5 years, ‘We’d really like more fresh produce,'” said Steidele.

Steidele says right now their customers want fresh onions, so they are growing them, including white, yellow and red onions. They are also growing squash, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, broccoli and strawberries. Steidele says the biggest benefit to having a garden just steps away from their back door is that they can grow produce that needs to be eaten right away because it gets on the shelves faster.

“It’s like right from the garden. It still has the dirt on it,” said Kathy Dardick, a PROP volunteer of nearly three years.

Dardick says the fresh produce and refrigerated foods are usually first to be picked over by customers. She said the transition to healthier foods on the shelves hooked her into volunteering.

“I’m a nurse, so it was something kind of near and dear to my heart getting fresh fruits and vegetables out to people,” Dardick said.

PROP also started composting for the first time this year. They take all of their waste and reuse it in the soil where they grow their produce. They also accept fresh produce donations from the community and local groceries stores, including Kowalski’s Market, Cub Foods and Lunds & Byerlys.

PROP Food Shelf serves more than 4,000 people a year, and 45% of them are kids under the age of 17.

Learn more about how to donate to PROP on their website.

Marielle Mohs