New Cookbooklet is Community Garden Fundraiser

George Zarillo, coordinator of the Gulfport Community Garden volunteer group, holds a copy of their first cookbooklet that is being sold as a fundraiser. He is kneeling next to watermelons and collard greens inside the fenced garden on land that is owned by the City of Gulfport. The group has partnered with LocalShops1 of Gulfport where the cookbooklet can be purchased during business hours throughout the year.

For the first time, the Gulfport Community Garden volunteers have produced a cookbooklet to help raise funds for their group, said Shara Bunis, compiler and editor.

“I’m ecstatic with the way it has turned out,” said Bunis.

Titles “Gulfport Community Garden Volunteers, Garden-inspired Cookbooklet,” the 2019 edition is 21 pages and sells for $10.

It contains family or original recipes from members of the group based on food mostly grown in the garden. Volunteers have also taken photos in the Community Garden to illustrate the ingredients, said Bunis.

The booklet was first made available during the group’s Dance for Plants annual fundraiser on March 22 at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom.

Afterward, the group met and decided to partner with LocalShops1 in Gulfport so the booklet could be available for purchase during business hours throughout the year, said Bunis.

“All money that comes in from sales will support the Community Garden,” she said.

Dark Horse Florida Publishing and Minuteman Press, both of St. Petersburg, have donated publishing and printing services said Bunis.

In the fall, Bunis, who is also an accomplished chef, will be speaking at the Gulfport Public Library, where the book will also be available. The focus of her presentation will be healthy and efficient cooking using little time and primarily one pot. Food samples will be available for taste testing.

The garden is located at 5125 Preston Ave. S. on land owned by the City of Gulfport.

The volunteers are currently operating with summer hours, said George Zarillo, coordinator. Until mid to late September when fall planting begins, the volunteers work in the garden on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., “or whenever they are done,” to avoid the summer heat as much as possible. Regular hours will resume in September and in addition to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to about 10:30 a.m., hours will include Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to about 6 p.m.

This growing season, the garden has yielded about 1,500 pounds of produce, said Zarillo. Volunteers share the harvest, and the surplus is donated to the Gulfport Senior Center Food Pantry.

The three-part mission of the group is food, community and education, he said.
“People who show up participate and share in the bounty,” said Zarillo. “There is no entry fee.”

For more information, stop by the garden when it is open or visit


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