The Health Commission is actively encouraging District churches to “Go Green” by planting gardens next summer. Community gardens provide healthy, fresh produce, an opportunity to serve others in a giving ministry and the privilege of being good environmental stewards of God’s riches. It can also be an ongoing inter-generational learning experience for all who participate.
A survey of existing garden projects in the 3rd District revealed that there are already some garden veterans. They include: St. John AME, Cleveland.
Initially planned as a one-time only Women’s Day activity aimed at improving the eating habits of church members and neighborhood residents. St. John’s garden marked its 6th Anniversary this year. Co- chief gardeners Dr. Pamela Redden and Mrs. Frances Tyus set up a “Market Place” in the lower auditorium of the church that opens after service to distribute free vegetables each Sunday during harvest season.
The garden yield this year was especially bountiful and more than 1000 pounds of tomatoes, collard greens, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, okra, green beans, swiss chard, jalapenos, bell peppers, eggplant, handbarrow peppers and banana peppers were shared.
The second Garden is located in West Virginia and has a different approach. The “Scratch Project” Huntington, WV founded by a Young Chapel AME Church member who was fondly known as “Ma Della Taylor” and who saw the urban garden in downtown Huntington as a way to provide low income families nearby with wholesome food. Now operated by West Virginia State University Agricultural Department, the Scratch Project remains actively involved with Young Chapel AME as illustrated by the following account of a recent visit.
”On our visit to the garden the youth were given a tour and some fun educational/nutrition facts before participating in hands on activities. Each student received a planter and a small chocolate mint plant to take home. They worked to fill their plant containers with fertilized dirt, added the mint plant with tender loving care and a little water to keep it moist. They were excited and loved playing in the dirt. Additionally, YPD members at Young Chapel AMEC, in Huntington have been invited to join this garden project.”
Allen Chapel AME in Charleston, WV had an indoor planting project. Children ages 2-8 years old planted indoor herb gardens for a fun activity. This was a great mentoring experience for the older youth to assist the younger children. These young people were serious gardeners. It was a joy to see all the smiles and laughter as they tediously spooned in just the right amount of dirt into each designated spot in their egg carton planting container.
Teaching children about gardening including growing and eating nutritious food is a goal for the WV YPD. And we want to share our food and talents to help our
neighbors and friends. In all things we give God the praise and the glory!
NOTE: The 2015 West Virginia Annual Conference adopted an initiative “The Shepherd’s Garden” which encourages AME church pastors and members to facilitate gardening projects within their respective communities. Churches are requested to utilize their facilities and property to start gardening projects to help feed the hungry and needy families within their respective areas.
How to Start a Community Garden:
- Form a committee of three or four people willing to commit to the project.
- Look for community resources. Use the link below for ideas. Each state is different and each
city has different resources. Before you begin, make sure you have a site (The site should be
visible, safe, accessible to garden participants, and have the support of neighbors), enough
people, funds to get supplies, tools and support for the project.
- Determine if there is interest and determine how the garden will be used and by whom. The
answer to this question will significantly determine the mission, organization, and outreach of
- Determine how you will be funded. Use the link below to assist with planning.
The reward in creating a community garden:
Improving your health and the health of your community.