Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of stories about congregations responding to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s call to "Grow Christ's Church Deep and Wide." The call to grow in evangelism, discipleship, servanthood and diversity was adopted by the 2008 General Assembly and renewed by the 2010 General Assembly. — Jerry L. Van Marter
Last year Foley's First Presbyterian Church, through its Reach Out Committee, began to explore ideas of ways to bring people together in the South Baldwin County area in a caring Christian environment, encouraging self reliance, producing nutritious food, reducing the family food budget and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise and education.
Thus the Community Garden was developed on the church's 11-acre campus. Daphne Duphrene had the vision and with the help of many on the committee, the dream became a reality this year.
Local farmer Jeff Underwood, an elder in the Foley church, began by locating the garden site on the property and tilled and fertilized the soil. Jarrod Jordan designed and installed the irrigation system. The administrative plan for the garden was organized by Elder Paxton Jordan who chairs the Reach Out ministry, with Steve Hutchko implementing the "free garden" which produces vegetables to be given away to the needy in the congregation and community.
Cassandra Cody administers the garden while Lacie Maynard pens the publicity.
"We hope our Community Garden will offer people an opportunity to enjoy our campus and fellowship with members of our congregation," Jordan said.
A total of 20 garden plots are to be available each year from March through October, according to Jose Martinez who serves as the Garden Manager. Each plot is 5 feet by 10 feet in an area sufficient to accommodate the 20 plots. Each plot has a number and when assigned, the name and telephone number of the "tenant."
Each gardener is charged a nominal fee for the use of a plot. In return, the Community Garden organization provides the land, primary tillage, liming, irrigation water, administration of the garden, signage and access to toilets. According to Jordan, in future years should funds be available, the Community Garden organization will consider other benefits to the gardeners.
According to Jordan, this spring garden includes corn, okra, butter beans, cucumbers, snap beans, watermelons and pumpkins.
"It's wonderful to see people getting together, talking and sharing food," said Hutchko, who along with Jordan has gived plants and seed.
Steve has really taken ownership of this endeavor," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jay Warthen.