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Two garden members pose with a wheelbarrow full of carrots they just harvested. Some of these carrots will go home with members, while others will be donated to the Southern Alamance Family Empowerment (SAFE) Food Pantry or given to members of the garden’s
Box of Blessings.
The Garden of Concord
The Garden of Concord is a community garden with 75 members, more than 100 raised beds, and a flourishing outreach ministry. This garden is successful because of its commitment to community, and its recognition of each person’s unique gifts.
The garden is on land owned by Concord United Methodist Church, and from the beginning it has been community driven. When the church agreed to host the garden, they invited the entire town to give input on the mission of the garden and what they should grow. You do not need to be a member of the church to join the garden, and garden members are encouraged to take extra produce home for their neighbors. The garden also hosts free events for the public, including Neighbor Nights, cooking and canning classes, and garden tours. Finally, the garden runs a Box of Blessings program that provides free weekly boxes of produce to families in need.
While many garden members help in the garden through weeding and harvesting, the garden leadership recognizes that some people can contribute in other ways. For example, one member gathers the log sheets from each harvest and tallies up the total amount of produce harvested each week. Another member plans events for a living, so she helped start the garden’s Neighbor Nights. A boy scout built an outdoor pizza oven as a scout project, which the garden now uses when they host events. Recognizing each person’s unique talents has allowed the garden to grow in ways no one could have predicted and to engage a broad range of community supporters.
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Here are some basics that have helped the garden flourish:
Leadership: The garden has a planning committee made up of volunteers and paid employees. The garden also hosts interns from a local community college and Duke Divinity School.
Membership: There is a $25 annual fee (per family) to join the garden, and members agree to volunteer at least 1 hour per week. “Garden Angels” give donations to cover the fee for people who can’t afford it.
Scheduled Workdays: The garden hosts workdays three days a week, so people always know when the garden is open. At least one staff member is at each workday to coordinate volunteers.
Maintained Contact: Each garden member receives a weekly email update from the garden coordinator, and the garden also sends monthly updates to “Friends of the Garden,” people who aren’t members but support the garden in other ways.