Feeding Body, Mind, and Soul—Tending a Community Garden
by Beth Dobyns
There is an old joke that goes around this time of year—look on your porch before you step out—there may be zucchini there! Abundant crops of beautiful fruits and vegetables are certainly food for the body. But talk to Master Gardeners, and they will tell you about food for the mind and spirit as well.
Several years ago, Wayne Edwards, on the staff at First Christian Church in Madisonville as the minister of music, suggested the use of some of the land on the church campus. Also a Master Gardner, he had a vision of using the land for a community garden that would supply fresh produce to the local food pantry. Wayne’s idea came into being, and now it still produces wonderful fresh food to the food pantry.
Mary Haylee Hancock is now the director of the Community Garden, and she speaks of the joy of sharing time with other gardeners. Even when it is hot and humid, the work goes on, and is done by many volunteers. The work is divided into many possibilities, and persons are welcome to join in where they wish. The current driver who delivers the produce to the food pantry is a ninety-year-old volunteer who enjoys making the transfer.
Mary Haylee says that this is a work of love, shared between the church and the Master Gardeners program. Several of these special gardeners are members of the church, so there is a strong crossover of leadership and work. Everything that is needed along the way is usually donated—plants as the growing season begins, money for fencing materials, and anything else that might be needed during the months of production.
Those who have completed the Master Gardener program are asked to volunteer hours and work in their communities, and the FCC Community Garden is a lively place for those hours to be contributed. There is food for many that is gladly shared from this place; there is food for the body in the work that is done; there is food for the mind in solving all kinds of challenges that come up (like deer visits, dealing with heat and lack of rain at times), and there is food for the spirit as people have time to contemplate the amazing work God makes known in the seeds and plants that come to life and thrive.
A grand partnership has come into being as that plot of land is used so well. According to the gardeners, this 100 foot by 100 foot garden produces about 4,000 pounds of food each year for the food pantry! This is a tremendous harvest for everyone involved. Thank you to everyone for seeing possibilities, for the commitment to make it happen, and for the sustaining power of love and hope that God gives. What a blessing!