How church members are contributing to the locally grown organic food movement … and how you can too.

A handful of the church’s gardeners pose proudly in the garden.

House of Hope Helps Feed Those in Need
“The church garden was started in 2011 as a way for our church to help feed the hungry in our community. We never intended it to be used by church members. Our sole focus was to donate the produce to a local food shelf. We chose to work with Neighborhood House, a non-profit located on the west side of St. Paul. We always try to have ‘staple items’ as well as produce that ethnic communities who use Neighborhood House’s food shelf would enjoy. We grow at least six different kinds of herbs as well as a wide variety of lettuce, and over 20 different types of fruits and vegetables.

Food shelves mainly provide nonperishable items, so it’s nice to be able to contribute fresh food. Our garden was intentionally placed in a visible location on Summit Avenue as a reminder to passersby that not everyone is fortunate enough to buy all the food they need. One could say another purpose of the garden is to remind people of this fact.

My favorite part of this project is bringing donations to the food shelf. Patrons are so delighted when they see us come in with a delivery of fresh garden produce. The food we deliver is taken off the shelves almost immediately. We also appreciate the positive comments from passersby while we work in the garden. It is a beautiful garden and our community seems to value it. The strawberries that we grow are on the outside of the fence for anyone to take. It’s rewarding to see people picking some strawberries to eat as they walk by. We believe this builds community.

The church garden produces a surprising amount of fruits and vegetables. All produce is donated to the Neighborhood House food shelf. Pictured here: the garden at the very end of the season.
Late season harvest of purple cabbage.

Many of the volunteers who work in the garden say it fills them with a sense of peace which comes from the feeling that they are doing something good to help our community. While we have about 20 volunteers, sometimes it’s hard to get everything done. During harvest season, we are incredibly busy. Most of us have full-time jobs or young children. I personally am not a gardener. I have learned a great deal over the years, however, from the volunteers in the group who have deep knowledge about gardening.

Maintaining the garden can be challenging. But the rewards far outweigh our challenges. The main reason I am a member of House of Hope is that this church has a strong commitment to help those in need. The garden is one important way this mission is fulfilled.”

As told to Neighborhood Greening by House of Hope gardener, Terri Mattila

Interested in Starting a Vegetable Garden at Your Place of Worship? Some Tips from the House of Hope Gardeners.
Favored source for organic seeds: Johnny’s Seeds
Favored source for purchasing plants locally: Mississippi Market

Plan ahead for irrigation. Don’t install a garden without considering the proximity of your water source. House of Hope has a built-in irrigation system.

Garden planning: Territorial Seed Company online garden planner
*Be sure to look for Part II in the Fall 2018 issue of The Butterfly Effect, featuring a “high production” backyard garden as well as an amazing schoolyard garden.

House of Hope invested in the professional services of Paula Westmoreland of Ecological Design, a permaculture design company, to help with the initial layout of the church’s high production garden.

If you have a community garden in a prominent area, be prepared to answer a lot of questions from passersby. Also be prepared to receive compliments!

What Grows in House of Hope’s Garden?
Swiss chard

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