A Stevens Point man takes his hobby to the next level - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

A Stevens Point man takes his hobby to the next level

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -  Mark Mason grows thousands of pounds of vegetables in his backyard, but all those vegetables are not for him. 

Mason spends most of his time in the giving garden. The place where he grows lots of vegetables.

"Green beans, and tomatoes, watermelon and musk melon," said Mason.

Mason says he's always had a passion for gardening. 

"I've been gardening most of my life."

 Now he's turning that passion up a notch serving his community. Something he enjoys and something expected of him as a leader at Ministry Health Care. 

"Trying to take those vegetables and do the most good with those so I started bringing them into local food pantries," said Mason. 

One of those pantries, the Salvation Army in Stevens Point. 

"He came in to the shelter, I believe it was 2 years ago and asked if he grew vegetables if we would use them," said Dana Kaminski of the Salvation Army.

The answer was yes. In 2012, Mason says he donated 3,200 pounds of vegetables. Last year, the number nearly doubled to more than 5,000 pounds. That makes Mason the salvation army's number one donor. 

"We couldn't afford to buy if we had to purchase the vegetables that he gives us, we wouldn't be able to do it," said Kaminski. 

Salvation Army leaders say these vegetables are a change of pace. 

"They like the fresh food, they get canned food just because it's cheaper and easier and when we process there are no preservatives or anything so they're getting fresh food and it does taste a lot better," said Kaminski. 

That's what Mason is striving for. 

"The fresh vegetables is kind of a culture shift I believe for the homeless in our area," said Mason. 

It's not easy work, but Mason says he loves using his hobby and passion to spread joy to others. 

"It's worth it," said Mason.

Mason says he'll be adding collards and kale to the his long list of vegetables this year.

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