‘Feed Your Soul & Help Feed Others’ raises funds for Greenhouse Project

By Ben Freda - For Abington Journal
Vanessa L. White Fernandes, aka The Hug Lady, vends her book and displays her photo albums at Tara Atkins’ backyard. - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Brenda Fernandes sings and plays the harmonium during outdoor yoga sessions. - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Hilary Steinberg, far right, owner of Jaya Yoga, teaches yoga to the attendees of the fundraiser. - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Eugene Litz, owner of Thirteen Olives, with his bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. He also serves tropical quinoa, sweet corn and tomato salad, and focaccia bread. - - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Tara Atkins, who hosted the fundraiser, shares with her guests about how she first learned of the Greenhouse Project. - - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
TJ Casey, chef of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, cooks up shrimp for his watermelon salad. - - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Jessica Martin, left, chef, and Laurie Perri, owner, of The Mustard Seed Cafe, which is located in Waymart, serve smokey chili lime summer rolls. - - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Kodha, one of Tara Atkins’ three dogs, enjoys being petted by guests. - - Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

N. ABINGTON TWP. — People enjoyed organic food, outdoor yoga, a fire pit, and a few playful dogs all in the backyard of Tara Atkins’ house in North Abington Twp. Aug. 23 at a get-together was called “Feed Your Soul & Help Feed Others” which raised funds for the Greenhouse Project.

Atkins, a teacher-in-training of Jaya Yoga in Clarks Summit, needed to perform a selfless project for her yoga class and decided to combine food, garden, and people, which are all important to her.

“I love food and people and to bring them together, this is the perfect way to do it,” she said.

Atkins invited her yoga instructor Hilary Steinberg to conduct outdoor yoga sessions to kick off the event.

“This is an amazing opportunity to be a part of the community and encourage the community to come out and support local food, the Greenhouse Project, and things like that.”

Brenda Fernandes sang and played the harmonium during yoga. her wife Vanessa L. White Fernandes vended her book called “The Hugging Army: An Experience in Connection,” about her Hug Bug Tour, in which she visited and hugged people in the Southern United States.

“I’ve hugged about 3,000 people in three years,” she said.

Fernandes also displayed her photo albums of places she offered hugs across the country, including downtown Scranton.

Atkins’ backyard also had farm to table dinner stations. She reached out to local restaurants that share her belief in organic food to provide samples of their specialties.

“This fits in with what we do because it’s a farm to table event,” said TJ Casey, chef of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar in Moosic.

Casey made watermelon salad with an option of either chicken or shrimp. He uses fruits, vegetables, and meats produced from Lancaster Farms in his dishes. Harvest’s motto is “Know your farmer. Know your food.” Casey was accompanied by Nicole Janthor who does marketing for the restaurant. They attend other events such as baby showers and graduation parties.

Eugene Litz, owner of Thirteen Olives in Clarks Summit, brought samples of olive oils and balsamic vinegar. He also made tropical quinoa, sweet corn and tomato salad and focaccia bread and shared recipes to the attendees.

“I provide people with different recipes,” he said.

James Bolus, who will soon open a farm to table cafe and market called The Wandering Hen in downtown Scranton, cooked and served Swiss chards grown from Atkins’ garden. He also cooked grape leaves made with rice, parsley, mint, and peppers and made bruschetta with tomatoes grown from Rowlands Pennsylvania Produce in Falls.

Participants sampled summer succotash made by The Epicurean Delight Catering in Tunkhannock and tried smokey chili lime summer rolls with dipping sauce courtesy of Laurie Perri, owner, and Jessica Martin, chef, of The Mustard Seed Cafe in Waymart.

“We love it,” Perri said about the event. “Anything that helps promote sustainable agriculture, we’re all for it.”

This isn’t the first time The Mustard Seed Cafe supported the Greenhouse Project as it once gave away food for this cause.

This event raised funds for the Greenhouse Project’s programs, including Empowered Eating (first Thursday of every month), senior citizen programs, gardening classes, and yoga classes. Executive director Jane Risse, who explained the Greenhouse Project to Atkins during a dinner at The Mustard Seed Cafe, mentioned this event raises awareness to bring new people to the programs and believes this event is a generous donation and contribution to the Greenhouse Project.

“It’s a great way to grow the community,” she said.

The attendees also got to meet with and pet Atkins’ dogs Kodha, a golden retriever, and two black lab sisters Rue and Leisa. They also enjoyed peach galette for dessert made by Robert Sibio of Sibio’s Restaurant in Dunmore as they sat around a fire pit during the evening hours.

This event was helped set up by Atkins’ husband Tim, her son Spencer and friend Maddie Lengel.

Scott Twp. resident Bob Klem, whose wife Mary is a member of the Greenhouse Project, enjoyed the evening.

“I had a fabulous time,” he said. “Very friendly atmosphere.”

Vanessa L. White Fernandes, aka The Hug Lady, vends her book and displays her photo albums at Tara Atkins’ backyard.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-1.jpgVanessa L. White Fernandes, aka The Hug Lady, vends her book and displays her photo albums at Tara Atkins’ backyard. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Brenda Fernandes sings and plays the harmonium during outdoor yoga sessions.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-2.jpgBrenda Fernandes sings and plays the harmonium during outdoor yoga sessions. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Hilary Steinberg, far right, owner of Jaya Yoga, teaches yoga to the attendees of the fundraiser.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-3.jpgHilary Steinberg, far right, owner of Jaya Yoga, teaches yoga to the attendees of the fundraiser. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Eugene Litz, owner of Thirteen Olives, with his bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. He also serves tropical quinoa, sweet corn and tomato salad, and focaccia bread.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-4.jpgEugene Litz, owner of Thirteen Olives, with his bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. He also serves tropical quinoa, sweet corn and tomato salad, and focaccia bread. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Tara Atkins, who hosted the fundraiser, shares with her guests about how she first learned of the Greenhouse Project.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-5.jpgTara Atkins, who hosted the fundraiser, shares with her guests about how she first learned of the Greenhouse Project. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

TJ Casey, chef of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, cooks up shrimp for his watermelon salad.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-6.jpgTJ Casey, chef of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, cooks up shrimp for his watermelon salad. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Jessica Martin, left, chef, and Laurie Perri, owner, of The Mustard Seed Cafe, which is located in Waymart, serve smokey chili lime summer rolls.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-7.jpgJessica Martin, left, chef, and Laurie Perri, owner, of The Mustard Seed Cafe, which is located in Waymart, serve smokey chili lime summer rolls. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Kodha, one of Tara Atkins’ three dogs, enjoys being petted by guests.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_ABJ-Greenhouse-8.jpgKodha, one of Tara Atkins’ three dogs, enjoys being petted by guests. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal
Tara Atkins hosts ‘Feed Your Soul & Help Feed Others’

By Ben Freda

For Abington Journal

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at news@theabingtonjournal.com.

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at news@theabingtonjournal.com.