The History of the Garden of Eatin’
The “Garden of Eatin’” was created in 2018 on the Wintergarden Presbyterian Church campus and offers twenty raised beds to individuals and families for the primary purpose of growing vegetables for their individual consumption. Four of the twenty beds, 2’ x 10’, are compliant with the guidelines set forth in the American with Disabilities Act. The remaining 16 beds are 4’ x 10’ plots. Any bed not rented for individual use is available as a communal bed to support the adjacent food pantry. Individual gardeners may also contribute harvested produce to the WPC food pantry. The community garden is also designated as a Food Forest. The campus also includes a registered Soil Site – a community composting area to generate nutrient-enriched soil for use in the gardens.
The concept for the garden was born in the Spring of 2015 when a friend of the congregation came to the pastor to ask if we had ever considered having a community garden on the property. At that time, we had not considered a community garden, but the leadership of the congregation decided it would be a great idea to have one on the property and approved moving forward with the garden. However, due to logistical hurdles, the garden was nothing more than a concept and we could not move forward with its construction at the time.
The breakthrough for the garden presented itself in May 2018, when together with another congregation, we were operating a 24-hour food pantry.. Although we received large amounts of food to the pantry, we were unable to give it all out and generated a great deal of food waste. We couldn’t afford the increasing cost of garbage bins, so we decided to start composting. Along with MakeSoil, we built the compost bins in August 2018 and became a soil making community. As our compost bins began to produce rich compost, we realized that we needed to put it to good use, and thus, this process catalyzed the formal development of our community garden. Along with grant funding from Keep Charlotte Beautiful and a partnership with Boy Scout Troop 37, we sponsored the site for 2 Eagle Scout Projects. Specifically, Daniel Harnden’s Eagle Scout project was to prepare the land and construct ten 10×4 raised garden beds. Daniel finished his project in the Spring of 2019. Then Sean Richie completed the second eagle scout project and continued the project by adding six more 10×4 raised garden beds and four 10×2 ADA beds (wheelchair accessible and stand up garden beds). Sean finished his project in Fall of 2019. These 20 garden beds allowed us to welcome our gardening community to the “Garden of Eatin”.
The future of our community garden is to expand to have more communal beds to serve not only our congregation and food pantry, but also those who are not able to garden. Additionally, we are incorporating a food forest into the Garden of Eatin so that anyone who comes to the property is able to find something to eat.
It is our hope that through the food pantry, community garden, and food forest, we will help our community tackle both acute and chronic food insecurity. Through food production and educational classes, we hope to teach more people how to garden and provide food for their families in an economically friendly and sustainable manner. As our garden grows, we pray that with our community working together, we will be able to eliminate food insecurity in our county.