Grace Covenant Presbyterian planting the seeds to end food insecurity in Asheville
A natural outgrowth of the congregation's values
From Presbyterian News Service
A trip to Haiti and a community conversation planted a seed at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church that is bringing fresh vegetables and fresh hope to Asheville, North Carolina.
In January 2009, church member Bill Gettys traveled to Haiti to work on a project in the medical laboratory of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-worker Jenny Bent. While there, Bill learned about the agricultural work of Jenny’s husband, Mark Hare, who is also a PC(USA) mission co-worker. When Bill returned home, he enthusiastically introduced the church to Mark’s garden program.
That October, Grace Covenant hosted a forum on health care needs in the community. Discussion eventually focused on how the congregation could contribute to the wellness of the community surrounding the church. After identifying potential community partners and acquiring the necessary approvals, tilling began on the garden on the church lawn at the end of January 2010.
Here’s how the program works: at the beginning of the growing season, about 40 church and community members divide into four teams to till, plant, weed and harvest crops on alternating weeks. Summer crops vary from beans, squash and eggplant to peppers and tomatoes. In the fall, the teams plant cool weather vegetables. The volunteers box and deliver about 75 percent of the vegetables to local food pantries and community kitchens.
Then-pastor Mark Ramsey was supportive from the beginning and received approval from the session. Everyone liked the idea, but there was some hesitation about digging up the church lawn to plant vegetables. Some suggested that the garden might be in the back, hidden from the road. Ramsey said firmly that if the church was going to undertake the project, it was going to be front and center. And the Community Garden was born.
Read the full story here.