by Richard Reed
First UMC, Graham
August 23, 2013
Two years ago a member of our congregation, Nann Hale, had the idea of creating a garden on the property of the church. The local food bank distributes lots of canned food, dry goods, and prepared items, but little fresh produce. The purpose of the garden was to produce local vegetables that could be given to the local food bank. Nann admits to no experience in gardening, but she did want children and families in our community to have access to fresh vegetables.
She quickly assembled a team and started digging. One member Nann recruited was newly retired John Packlik, who did have the background in gardening, soil preparation, and other specific skills to help the garden along. A growing number of volunteers assemble each week to nurture and grow a garden with a now large variety of crops.
The results are many hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables for the local food bank – fresh vegetables throughout the summer. The community garden also provides vegetables for a program hosted by our church, "Our Daily Bread," which feeds children and their families for six to seven weeks in the summer. These children receive meals from the school district through the month of June, but the school ceases the program in July and for the first two weeks of August. Our congregation began preparing meals five days a week. The fresh vegetables are, for many children, the first they have ever eaten.
The garden continues to expand and this fall, fruit trees will be added to the site. An addition that is producing for the first time this year is a new strawberry bed. At the end of the growing season and before the first frost, all of the remaining produce is picked and Chow-Chow is made and then sold. The proceeds help fund the project for the next year.
The FUMC Community Garden is a hands-on ministry born out of a desire of one person to help children and families in our community. Even though Nann did not have the background in gardening, she had the vision and desire to make the community garden a reality.