GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -Paying it forward in the way of fruits and veggies…..One man in Grand Rapids is giving out food to his neighbors, free of charge.
From peppers to blackberries, Tom Hernon says he has an abundance of produce to help his community.
This is the third year Tom is offering his neighborhood access to pick however many fruits and veggies they want for free… wanting to help his neighbors with a sweet summer treat.
"I've got peppers, I've got cucumbers, I've got grapes, I've got apple, I've got peaches,"says Tom Hernon.
The list goes on and on……
Out of the kindness of his heart Tom offers the abundance of fruits and veggies in his garden to help feed his neighbors. Years ago Tom planted this garden not knowing what it would become today.. and now he’s sharing the wealth.
"I had a bunch of really ugly bushes in here and they weren’t doing anything but hiding rodents so we yanked them all out and I thought well I'm in a wheelchair and it's kinda nice to have the sidewalk and work the garden and things. So I just planted 4 small blackberry plants, 2 peaches trees, 2 apple trees and 2 grape vines and that’s about 7 years ago I guess and they all have just grown to a level where it's way more food than I could ever eat," says Hernon.
Tom says some folks on the west side are struggling with lower incomes and this is a great way to give everyone a sweet summer treat that they may not be able to have otherwise.
"Things they might not be able to afford like blackberries are expensive at the store. So you know what like 3 to 4 bucks for just a pint of them and I’ve got millions of them here so it’s a nice summer treat. A lot of times some people earliest memories are picking berries," says Hernon.
Along with his community, Tom has challenges of his own. He is bound to a wheelchair after being left paralyzed from the waist down following a dirt bike accident in '97.
Hernon said, "You know what it's tough to get to the ground and I'm actually building a wheelchair right now that has pneumatics in it that raises and lowers so I can lower down to the ground."
Tom says his family is around to help him tend to the garden everyday. He says it’s all about helping your neighbors.
"It's just a fun way to meet people in the community and help people out to have a nice summer treat that they normally wouldn’t have got," says Hernon.
Tom says he doesn’t use any chemicals, just waters and watches the plants grow. He wishes more people would do this and have community gardens. If you ask Tom why he does all this...he has one simple answer.
"Why not, like I've said I've got plenty more than I'll ever eat so it's no big deal. I wasn’t expecting these trees to produce this much and these berries their four little plants this big so now that they’ve produced this much I don’t have the use for them. So I've got my freezer full from last year still and this way I get rid of them and meet some people and help people out," says Hernon.
Tom Hernon lives in the 1200 block of Leonard NW right next to Little Caesars.
He's opening his garden in the evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8: 00 p.m. for neighbors.
FOX 17's Candace Monacelli will have more starting at 4:00 p.m. on FOX 17 News.