-DONATE YOUR PRODUCE
TO A FOOD BANK-
People of all ages gather in the garden to harvest produce. Younger children love playing the dirt and learning about gardening from older generations.
Messiah UMC Community Garden Vale, NC
In Messiah United Methodist Church’s backyard in Lincoln County is a community garden overflowing with produce harvested by church and community members. While the garden was started by the church, Messiah UMC has made it very clear that this garden is open to all Vale residents to work in and enjoy. The garden produces a wide range of vegetables and even includes bee hives donated by a community member. A garden coordinator handles the day to day operations, but on Tuesday evenings during spring, summer, and fall, community and church members are invited to harvest fresh produce and tend to the garden. The produce grown is donated to Christian Ministries of Lincoln County, a soup kitchen and emergency services provider in Lincolnton. A member at Messiah United Methodist Church who volunteered with Christian Ministries initiated the partnership by donating her own garden produce. Now, the partnership has grown and Messiah UMC donates produce monthly to Christian Ministries. Church members and individuals who work in the garden are welcome to take any produce they’d like, but none of the food is sold for profit. All extra produce is delivered to Christian Ministries for use in their soup kitchen or their Home Meals delivery program. Providing soup kitchens, food banks, or emergency food centers with fresh, free produce increases access to healthy foods and builds partnerships between organizations.
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If you already have an established community garden, whether it belongs to your church, your community center, your neighborhood or another organization, you can partner with local food crisis services to donate fresh produce. Start with the people you know. Messiah UMC partnered with Christian Ministries because one of their own members had worked with them before. Religious organizations are often a good place to start because they often rely solely on donations from the community and frequently need fresh produce. Make sure you develop a donation plan so partner agencies know how much and how often to expect produce and have a plan for distribution. Also, check to see if there are any food safety or delivery protocols you will need to follow to donate produce.