On a recent Monday morning, six volunteers from St. John’s Methodist Church showed up at the Mission Garden at 7 a.m. and picked over 750 pounds of vegetables, including 500 pounds of tomatoes.
That’s a lot of tomatoes.
The fruits of their labor in this, the garden’s 5th year, are due to the vision, organization and hard work of many people. In 2011, St. John’s resolved to use their considerable land resources to help the community, and they pledged to do it in a very visible and tangible way: by growing food to supply area food pantries and soup kitchens.
Since that time, the Mission Garden has blessed thousands of people with a total of 30 tons of vegetables over its first four years. This has required a lot of planting, weeding, and watering, as well as a logistical jigsaw puzzle of schedules for picking vegetables to coincide with the schedules and needs of multiple pantries. This has truly become a community effort, as St. John’s has reached out to other churches for help, including New Song and Mt. Joy in Edwardsville. In addition, the Boy Scouts, fraternities/sororities and others have welcomed an opportunity to help in this meaningful and effective ministry to fight hunger. Vegetable selection has been modified through some trial-and-error, and the garden has persevered through rainy and dry seasons, enduring cutworms and “blossom end rot,” as a witness to the optimism, resilience and compassion of the human heart in our troubled world.
But back to that 500 pounds of tomatoes…
That took just under two hours, with six volunteers. The garden is now producing that amount Every. Two. Days.
Volunteers currently harvest 1500 pounds of vegetables per week, and the garden is on track to EXCEED its record harvest of 2014. This is a strain on the few people who work regularly, and yet we know that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. St. John’s continues to reach out to other churches and community groups. There are MANY TASKS required in this effort. We need people who can pick, people who can drive produce to pantries, people who can weed, prune and thin plants(on their own schedule), and people who can help with communications, reaching out to pantries and other groups of workers.
If you have been thinking of helping in the Mission Garden, now is the time. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Call the church office at 618-656-1853, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can be a part of this great blessing to the hungry in our area.