If you were to stroll down the long neat rows of the Lettuce Feed Others Community Garden in early September, you would see raised garden boxes overflowing with lush green leaves of lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, turnips, beets, basil, chives, and oregano. Ripe tomatoes, banana peppers, and yellow squash peak through the tangled leaves revealing pops of red and gold.
What is now a sizable and vibrant sustainable organic garden began humbly on a small plot of vacant land earmarked for a future building site. Back in 2013, a local high school student heard about a modest community garden run by a few volunteers from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church who donated the produce they grew to CommUnity Food Bank. They decided to team up on a senior project to expand the garden infrastructure by building hoop houses that would extend the growing season and produce spring and fall greens. They named the project Lettuce Feed Others, and the name stuck.
Six years later, the humble garden has grown into a fruitful community staple, but the mission has remained the same: “to love the earth and all the people on it [by] cultivating a just, inclusive, local food system,” according to the organization’s Facebook page. A group of dedicated volunteers from St. Andrew plant, weed, water, harvest, clean, and package the crops for donation to CommUnity Food Bank while maintaining the garden space.
Among those volunteers is longtime church member and volunteer with Lettuce Feed Others, Dedi Walker who we spoke with about their efforts. Dedi feels that as a faith-based group, “feeding others is a true calling.” She says that since its inception, donating the fresh produce they grow to CommUnity Food Bank has remained a fundamental part of the mission due to the large number of food insecure families in the Johnson County area.
“Everyone needs and should have access to healthy food,” Dedi said. “Gardening at church allows me to continue a pastime that I enjoy and that supports my belief that food is fundamental.”
You can support the Lettuce Feed Others Community Garden by offering a donation in exchange for homemade salsa made with ingredients grown by volunteers in the garden. Donations will help to buy the seeds, plants, and other necessities for next year’s crop. Salsa will be available for donation at the Alternative Gift Market at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church on Sunday, November 24th, 9:00am-12:30pm.