Looking for a little inspiration to plant a garden at your church or in your community? Have questions about the whole process or need a little grant money to get you started? Well, keep reading…. A United Methodist church in Hickory, NC and the First Lady’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities Initiative might have just the answers you’re looking for!
Before I share with you an awe-inspiring message from a member of First United Methodist Church in Hickory regarding their flourishing community garden, I would first like to make you aware of a grant opportunity which is being offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in partnership with Let’s Move Faith and Communities. These two entities are joining forces to help families access more fruits and vegetables by awarding grants of up to $150,000 to individuals and organizations that agree to “facilitate the creation of produce, recreation and/or wildlife gardens in urban and rural areas”.
The deadline for applications is Friday, August 26. To find out more, please contact the Program Director, Dr. Tom Bewick, at email@example.com or by telephone at (202) 401-3356.
Now for that awe-inspiring story provided by a member of First United Methodist Church in Hickory:
The Parable Garden at First United Methodist Church, Hickory, NC
“The Parable Garden is an extension of a vision to help feed those persons in Hickory who are unable to feed themselves. Inspired and led by Buddy Weathers, who is assisted and advised by a number of volunteers, the Parable Garden is making a difference in the lives of many persons who call Hickory their home. It produced enough food in its first year of existence last year to feed hundreds of persons. Weekly the food from the garden is transported to the Hickory Soup Kitchen, the Salvation Army and/or to shut-ins. Learning from last year’s mistakes, the output already has tripled this year. Several new features have been incorporated into the garden. First, a substantial trellis (fence) is being used for climbing vegetables, such as tomatoes. Second, wide rows are being used for planting. This automatically increases the yield, as a higher percentage of the tilled area is used for growing crops and lesser amount is being used for walking paths. The wide rows are widely accepted but used less often by gardeners. Third, the soil is being augmented with both rabbit manure and leaf mulch. The use of natural, rather than commercial, fertilizers has greatly benefited the soil. Fourth, soaker hoses are being utilized to augment rain water. Fifth, the crops that are being planted this year will yield produce that can be used in a variety of ways by the cooks at their destinations. Corn, for example, can be eaten off the ears, served as a creamed corn vegetable, made into casseroles, or into soup. Sixth, plants that take up a lot of space, such as melons, and have a limited yield are not being planted. Seventh, we are using succession planting (several plantings of the same vegetable are spaced over an extended period) to increase the length of harvesting season. Eighth, by careful timing of the planting of the first crops, they were harvested and a second crop (follow-up crop) is growing. Ninth, a number of “things” have been used this year to make the Parable Garden more functional and visually beautiful (signage, blueberry bushes, flowers to attract pollinating bees, flowering shrubs/bushes) to gardeners and non-gardeners alike.
A second function of the parable Garden has been to educate a large number of youngsters on where our produce comes from. A surprisingly large number of them don’t think past the grocery stores. They don’t know how the produce got there. It’s just there. It appears by magic.
A third function has been to expose them to the different types of soil and growing conditions they might encounter later in life — what types support growth and what types hinder or stunt growth.
A fourth function, I believe is touched on under # eight (above) – making the garden visually attractive and appealing to as many people as possible.
A fifth function is to spread the word to other individuals, churches and civic organizations. Our garden is the premier garden raising food for individuals served by the Hickory Soup kitchen, Salvation Army, etc. in the area. Others come by on a regular basis to learn from us. We are glad to share the information with anyone at any time.”
– Mr. Dan Miller, First United Methodist Church, Hickory
For more community gardening tips, please email Mr. Miller at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also visit the Partners in Health and Wholeness website to learn more about health as a practice of our faith.
– Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator