As children return to school from summer vacation, many have engaged in fun summer activities. Some summer activities not only gave children a chance to learn in a fun environment, but they also give back to the community. Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains in Waynesville, NC is all about helping the community. In fact, Grace has created a garden space to allow children of all ages to come out five days a week to learn about agriculture. The “Grace Giving Garden” (GGG), as it has been named, is made up of several raised beds that are sponsored and maintained by different community groups, such as Meals on Wheels, The Food Pantry, The Arc, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, just to name a few. Led and taught by Grace volunteers, each organization received organic produce from beds that were planted and cared for over the summer by children from their organization and others from the Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center, Meridian Health, and Lifespan.
This summer, the garden received generous donations made possible by Southwestern NC RC&D Council and Haywood Waterways to install a one thousand gallon cistern in the garden to help make the garden more environmentally friendly. The role of a cistern is to collect and store rainwater. “Not only will this cistern help us to care for our garden, it is also a wonderful teaching tool to help teach our children about sustainability in agriculture,” says Emily Chatfield-Lusto, Co-Facilitator with Grace Giving Garden. In addition to the donation of the cistern, the garden has also received generous donations of tools and supplies from Meals on Wheels. GGG has also received grants from the Haywood County Master Gardener Volunteer Association and Lifespan to construct pathways around the garden as well as a level walkway and special elevated raised bed that allow people with mobility challenges to garden or just enjoy bring in one.
“We touch on sustainability, composting, how to plant, care for and harvest various crops, and the benefits of growing your own food. It’s a joy to be able to teach children in a garden environment,” said Chatfield-Lusto. “They are always eager to get their hands in the soil and are fascinated by growing veggies, especially when it comes time to harvest crops they’ve planted.”
Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains will be hosting a harvest potluck on Sunday, November 5th, 2017 at 11:45 am that will showcase not only the children’s hard work in the garden, but also the crops that have been harvested. The potluck will be held in Thatcher Hall at Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains, 394 N. Haywood Street, Waynesville, NC 28786. All are welcome to be a part of this event.