By: Catherine Royka
With a strong mission to, “Share the bounty of God’s gifts by feeding our neighbors and those in need,” the Giving Garden has done just that over the last seven years to help reduce hunger in the Williamson County area by providing fresh produce to more than twenty different charity organizations. The Giving Garden was formed by the Garden Ministry in 2009, after Franklin First United Methodist Church acquired 107 acres of land to build their new campus. Members of the ministry saw the bountiful land and believed that it could be put to good use by providing healthy produce for the local community. What began as a humble pumpkin patch for the children at the church turned in to much more, a five-acre operation that harvests dozens of different produce to donate to those in need.
The Giving Garden has made an incredible impact across Williamson County, feeding hundreds of people in the local community by partnering with more than twenty local charities that receive their produce grown from their garden. They grow and distribute almost 25,000 pounds of produce annually. They produce a myriad of seasonal produce including potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers and corn. Some of the charities that benefit include, Daughters of the King, Second Harvest, Onegenaway, Take the Reins, Meals on Wheels and GraceWorks Ministries.
The Garden runs on a dedicated team of volunteers from the church, local schools, businesses and organizations, the garden would not be possible. “About 175 people volunteer throughout the year; some a few hours and others almost daily,” says Lynn Wallace, one of the dedicated volunteers who has volunteered for years. “Several teams are needed to fulfill their mission such as, communication, transportation, media, distribution and production. More than 400 youth on mission trips from across the United States have assisted with the Giving Garden efforts.”
On this five-acres, there is a children’s garden, a greenhouse, raised garden beds and two barns where the planning and cleaning of produce takes place. On the Giving Garden land, there is also a children’s garden section, “God’s Little Acre,” devoted to teaching children about gardening. Inside the greenhouse, seedlings are planted and dated, to keep an eye on their progression through growth. The raised beds are located next to the greenhouse and are fenced to keep out animals. The barns on the property are helpful with the planning that goes into making the Giving Garden organized. Inside there are charts of when produce needs to be dropped off for organizations and where the food is going to be distributed. The cleaning stations are also inside, where teams will wash the recently-picked produce before they are delivered.
Anyone is welcome to assist with the Giving Garden, and the Garden Ministry has opportunities for anyone throughout the year to participate, whether you are a gardener or not. “Feeding the hungry is our mission and everyone can help,” adds Wallace.