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Souper Sunday keeps growing

Created date

August 23rd, 2010

[caption id="attachment_13825" align="alignright" width="280" caption="John Kaufman compares the beauty of the Maris Grove campus to the countryside of Tuscany. (photo by Elizabeth Janney)"][/caption] Toni and John Kaufman love to get down and dirty in the garden, that is! And the reward for their hard work is Souper Sunday, an event that, like their garden, just keeps blossoming and growing because it s been tended and tilled with love.

Souper Sunday s roots

Hundreds raised their spoons on August 8 at Maris Grove s Souper Sunday, a steaming success of a fund-raiser now in its fourth year. The idea began with the Kaufmans, who hoped to use every last bit of the vegetables from the Maris Grove gardens at the end of the growing season. We had all this bounty and wanted to do something good with it, Mrs. Kaufman says. They thought, why not make homemade vegetable soup from the leftover produce? Even better, why not sell it? That way, they could generate donations for the Benevolent Care Fund, which ensures no resident has to leave the community for financial reasons. [caption id="attachment_13824" align="alignright" width="245" caption="Together, Toni Kaufman and her husband, started Souper Sunday so non of the produce from Maris Grove's gardens would go to waste. (photo by Elizabeth Janney)"][/caption] They talked to Maris Grove s Executive Director Maureen Heckler and the dining services staff; after all, the staff would be cooking the soup. Once everyone was on board, they got to work collecting veggies and selling tickets. A soup-to-go event, Souper Sunday is held in Maris Grove s catering room. People buy tickets so the Maris Grove chefs know how much to make, and the 12-ounce soup is packaged with cookies made by Maris Grove s Blue Sky Restaurant and bread donated by Panera in Wilmington and the Fresh Market in Glen Mills. Souper Sunday was super! reports Mrs. Kaufman of this year s turnout. We raised a total of $2,340. Residents came through and picked up their preassembled bags and sang and danced (while waiting in line) to big band music of the 40s. It was a wonderful group effort. All vegetables for the soup came from people who live and garden at Maris Grove. The Kaufmans put crates on the sidewalk by the gardens and whatever people wanted to donate, they could leave in the crates. While Maris Grove gardeners continued to donate their homegrown veggies, the Kaufmans had to plant additional gardens solely for Souper Sunday this year. (Last year, there was more demand for soup than vegetables to make it!) So as not to leave any mouths unfed, the Kaufmans created four Souper Sunday growing spaces. One garden had 100 onions, 3 different kinds of potatoes, plus zucchini, carrots, and cabbage. The second had tomatoes, string beans, peppers, and peas. A third and fourth grew wildflowers and zinnias for the Country Market.

Souper Sunday s offspring

Later in August, the Kaufmans noticed flowers and vegetables were often left to rot. As a result, they decided to extend the concept of Souper Sunday not letting produce go to waste by establishing the Country Market. This venture, which they started last year, runs every Friday in August. They set up tables in the lobby of each clubhouse where people can buy flowers and vegetables from the resident gardens, again all of it donated. The first year, they had two tables. This year, they had four tables. One table was devoted to flowers, another was for baked goods, and two were for veggies.

Tending the garden with love

No matter how many hours go into planning, the preparation and growing are things the Kaufmans enjoy doing together. John does most of the work in the garden, Mrs. Kaufman says. He s up at 6 a.m. every day to check on both their personal garden and the four gardens dedicated to Souper Sunday and the Country Market. But when they plant, they plant together. They make a sketch of where they want things to go, and Mrs. Kaufman scatters the seeds. In addition, the Kaufmans have an individual garden with perennials, boxwood, and irises. And they built a stone wall from stones in the soil to make a little haven that Mrs. Kaufman compares to a Japanese garden. From their garden to their neighbors , the Kaufmans have ensured that nothing is wasted. Now people have an opportunity to show the fruits of their labors and to give those fruits for a good cause, the effects of which last all year long. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stats from 2010 s Souper Sunday: 5,616 ounces of soup sold=44 gallons of soup=468 12-ounce containers=$2,340 made for the Benevolent Care Fund