This reflection comes from Bruce Kelsh, Chair of Earth and Social Justice Committee for First Presbyterian Church, in Cottage Grove, OR.
Fifty percent of the people in our rural community are classified as being in poverty or ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained), that is, the working poor. There is a shortage of fresh produce for food vulnerable families. For several years our food bank, Community Sharing, has had garden space available that was not developed or used.
Be Your Best, a collaborative community group of more than thirty organizations, determined that restoration of this garden was a priority and would create opportunities for low-income families access fresh produce and learn self-sufficiency gardening skills. PC(USA)’s Hunger Program Resiliency grant provided the funding to restore this garden. Fortunately, we found a capable gardener and organizer to recruit volunteers, solicit plant starters, and renew this garden that had been neglected for several years.
In spite of COVID, work crews wearing masks and keeping distant showed up. The garden was rototilled, vegetables planted, and a plan put into place to maintain the garden. One of the goals of this project was to have this gardening be a learning opportunity for beginning gardeners. That will have to wait until this next season.
However, the goal of having a restored garden producing fresh vegetables for food vulnerable families was achieved. A volunteer harvested produce and it was distributed through a no barrier organization in town so that our Guatemalan neighbors could benefit. Many of them did not feel comfortable or safe going to our local food bank. In this way, produce found its way to some of the most vulnerable families in our community. The garden was put to rest for the winter and we plan to plant again.
Our plan is to partner with an organization that focuses on helping Spanish speaking families learn to garden. That will be a goal for this coming growing season.
The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to