The JamesCare for Life Garden of Hope continues to flourish, providing fresh vegetables and herbs to cancer patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic. &ldquo;Today&rsquo;s boxes have sweet corn &mdash; everyone&rsquo;s been excited about the sweet corn &mdash; and Swiss chard, garlic, tomatoes, green beans, eggplant, basal, zucchini, parsley, peppers, cucumbers, kale and some patty pan squash,&rdquo; Garden of Hope coordinator Amy Barr said during a recent visit. &ldquo;The edamame will be ready next week &mdash; it&rsquo;s the first time we&rsquo;ve grown it, and some participants are really excited.&rdquo; COVID-19 and its related safety precautions have not stopped the Garden of Hope, a 1.5-acre plot of land on Ohio State&rsquo;s Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory. Under normal circumstances, current and former cancer patients register, complete an orientation and then harvest their own crops from the Garden of Hope on a weekly basis over a two-year period. &ldquo;Due to COVID, we now bring everything to you and put it in your car,&rdquo; says Barr, who, along with her two student workers/farmers Kendall Gilmore and Christie Gales, wear masks, sanitize frequently and stay at a safe distance from patients and their caregivers. &ldquo;And we won&rsquo;t count this year toward everyone&rsquo;s two years.&rdquo; Barr and other JamesCare for Life staffers also host virtual workshops on gardening, nutrition and cooking. &ldquo;Our mission is to provide evidence-based nutritional information and education on the benefits of a plant-based diet,&rdquo; Barr says. &ldquo;We give people exposure to a wide variety of produce and herbs, and help them incorporate them into a heathy diet.&rdquo; A healthy, plant-based diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts contain phytochemicals that can stimulate the immune system, can reduce the inflammation that can increase the cancer risk and can prevent DNA damage. During typical years, the Garden of Hope serves as a social gathering spot, as the staff, volunteers and patients get to know one another and become a part of each other&rsquo;s lives over the course of the summer and into the fall. They talk about their lives and families, and swap recipes and gardening tips. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s made it a little tough this year,&rdquo; Barr says of the COVID safety precautions that have reduced the social interactions. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m so glad we can still see patients and caregivers each week. Even though our time is brief and they stay in their vehicles, we are still making connections, checking in with each other and sharing gardening and cooking tips. I see how enthusiastic they are about taking control of their own survivorship and eating a healthy diet.&rdquo; Barr also loves introducing people to new foods, like kohlrabi, a cabbage-like vegetable. &ldquo;Someone just told me they never knew what to do with kohlrabi, and now they love it roasted. Someone else said she&rsquo;s learned to love beets.&rdquo; Fifty varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are grown in the garden. &ldquo;Next week, we&rsquo;re going to put together a bouquet of edible flowers for everyone,&rdquo; Barr says. &ldquo;There will be zinnias, flowering Thai basal, mint, chive flowers and hyacinth bean.&rdquo; Other edible flowers grown in the garden include nasturtiums and lemon gem marigolds. Barr has a bit of a sweet spot for another crop. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m so impressed with our sweet potatoes &mdash; I&rsquo;m expecting an abundant harvest this fall.&rdquo; Gilmore says her favorite is the sweet corn. &ldquo;You have to eat it on the cob, that&rsquo;s the best way,&rdquo; she says. Gales says her favorite is a new crop this year: ground cherries. They&rsquo;re similar to the more well-known tomatillo and grow inside their own &ldquo;paper-like&rdquo; outer wrap. Ground cherries are small and surprisingly sweet. This year has been a learning experience for Barr, and she has adapted well to her changing role. &ldquo;The College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Dewey Mann (the director at Waterman) have been very supportive and helped to make the program possible in the safest possible way,&rdquo; Barr says. &ldquo;I am so appreciative of their partnership and the resulting benefit that cancer survivors are receiving.&rdquo; To find out more about the Garden of Hope and how you can get involved, call JamesCare for Life at 614-293-6428 or email email@example.com.