This Church Donates Half of All Produce From Its Community Garden
In 2011, when Asbury Church in Raleigh, N.C. noticed that softball was dying it needed to figure out how to repurpose its sporting field. Their solution was to create the Asbury Community Garden where fifty percent of all produce grown is donated.
For only $25, anyone can rent a garden bed in the garden as long as they agree to donate half of what they grow. According to Brenda Roy, the garden’s coordinator, for nearly a decade, the community garden has donated approximately 61,186.16 pounds of produce to different organizations, like Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, North Raleigh Ministries, Salvation Army, Prison Aftercare Christian Ministries, and individuals/families in need.
About half of those leasing beds are church members, and the rest belong to community members. Asbury welcomes the large community presence because it helps promote one of their goals–bringing awareness to the hunger needs in the area.
Twice each week, volunteers gather at the softball field turned garden, to harvest fresh produce, like collards, a variety of peppers, Sun Gold tomatoes, butternut squash, and okra. The food is weighed, packaged and then loaded onto the bed of volunteer Mike Richardson’s pickup.
Richardson, who has earned the nickname ‘Sodfather’ due to his passion for gardening, believes the community garden is a wonderful thing because people can see the benefit of their labor. He also sees gardening as a reflection of life.
“Gardening is as close to real life as you can get,” Richardson said. “You see a lot of dying. You see a lot of new birth. And you see a lot of processes in between where they’re developing and growing and spreading.”
When Richardson isn’t being philosophical, he can be found tending to his home garden, keeping the grounds at Ashbury’s field and providing help to other budding gardeners.
“We’ve helped a lot of other churches in this community build community gardens just from…what we know,” says the award-winning gardener.
To learn more about the garden and how to be involved, you can visit the Asbury Community Garden website