|St. Paul’s UMC in Lenexa created a community garden to help feed the hungry and build community involvement. (photos by Rob Reiman)|
“The community garden at St. Paul’s will be used to provide fresh produce to the programs already served through the church, in particular, the food pantries,” said Joy Thomas, community garden volunteer.
“St. Paul’s [also] feeds the hungry through monthly Argentine Food Kitchen meals, donations to food pantries, delivers meals to the homebound through Meals on Wheels and meals for families in the Interfaith Hospitality Network,” Thomas said.
Community-garden projects can make a lasting and positive impact on their communities from fostering a greater level of community involvement to providing healthy foods for schools and nonprofit events.
The primary goal of St. Paul’s Lenexa Community Garden is to provide fresh food to local food pantries. The designated food pantries are Metropolitan Avenue Methodist Church, Johnson County Multi-Service Center Food Pantry and Shawnee Community Services. Response from these local pantries has been overwhelmingly positive about the possibility of receiving fresh produce. Additional goals include building community through shared interest, education, preschool involvement and an area for meditation.
Through the Kansas Community Gardens Project, the Kansas Health Foundation and K-State Research and Extension look to spread these benefits throughout Kansas by providing not only the grant funds but also information and assistance to help make the individual garden projects successful community ventures.
Grant recipients were selected through a competitive application process, which drew interest from organizations and gardens throughout the state. The Kansas Community Gardens Project is a three-year initiative, with this year’s recipients representing the second group of gardens selected. During the inaugural year of grants, 24 gardens were selected.
“This grant has provided a tremendous opportunity for reaching out across the state to help people grow their own fresh produce. We anticipate a significant number of people will be impacted by this generous award as our goal is that each of these gardens still be thriving in a sustainable way in 10 years,” said Dr. Cheryl Boyer, assistant professor and extension specialist, ornamental nursery crops, with K-State Research and Extension.
“We are proud of the quality, variety and geographic coverage of the proposals we received this year and that we were able to fund so many great projects.”
“As winter turns to spring, people naturally begin thinking about getting outside and starting a garden,” said Steve Coen, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation. “Through the Kansas Community Gardens Project, our hope is that people will take that desire and energy and channel it into contributing to a community garden for the benefit of their entire community.”