Citrus County couple building garden to feed homeless, bring community together

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LECANTO, Fla. (WFLA) – A Lecanto couple is doing everything they can to help the homeless population in the county.

That includes recently purchasing property to start a massive garden to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to the homeless.

Vikki Spiller said her husband Cliff “felt like the Lord told him” they needed to start a garden.

“So I thought he was purely crazy, because I have a black thumb. I can’t grow anything! So we kind of thought, ‘um, how’s that’s actually going to work?” she said.

Spiller said after purchasing the land, they put the idea out to the world on Facebook and now more than 30 people are coming to their aid in July.

“We’re hoping that we can plant by the end of well, by the end of July is my goal. To at least get some things planted,” Spiller said.

According to Spiller, there are around 270 homeless people in Citrus County, including children. She cited a survey she and her husband helped the Homeless Coalition conduct. They do not believe everyone was counted.

According to the Homeless Coalition, 262 people are homeless within the county. They said a total of 118 people are unsheltered.

“Every time a point-in-time count is held, someone always says that not everyone was counted. We accept that this is possible. We do our best to count everyone that we can locate,” the coalition said in a statement to 8 On Your Side.

“People don’t think we have a homeless problem here, but we do. You might see a person here, a person there, but they’re all hiding. They’re all out there,” she said.

The garden, though a big project, isn’t the couple’s main focus. They’re trying to bring the community together to pull resources to help everyone in need with their ministry, BASICS (Brothers and Sisters in Christ Service) United, Inc.

“Our hope is for our community… that we can connect the churches together, the Christian organizations and ministries to feed off of each other. Everybody has the things that they do great, the gifts and the talents that God has given them,” Spiller said.

“Some churches are really good with their food banks, others churches have amazing clothing closets. Other ones go out like Salvation Army, which is our church, they go out and do the canteen truck with a hot meal twice a week out into the community. We’re hoping everyone will kind of start coming together and put [it]… into one big picture.”

The Spillers develop relationships with the homeless population in the county. They deliver the things they need and bring people back to their home to do laundry and have lunch.

Vikki and Cliff took a survey and wrote a list of what the majority of people said they’d like to eat fresh from the garden.

“A lot of people say ‘grow this, grow that, it’s easy to grow.’ Well that’s great but if nobody’s going to eat it!” Spiller laughed.

Spiller said the homeless population knows the garden is for them and people are excited to be a part of it.

“And that’s what we’re excited about, is that relationship building. Like I said, I hope more people from the community, as they come out to help, will get to know some of them and build relationships and have that comradery so that they can have someone else that they know cares,” she said.

“In the age of disposability, there should be no disposable people,” said Cliff.

BASICS United does not take checks. They have a website where they post the items they need most for the homeless.

To contact BASICS United, send an email to christiansunited@basicsunited.org.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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