A 5000 square foot garden with deer fencing was installed behind the church at the Catholic Community of St. John Neumann in the year 2000. Named "Project Earth Garden", the raised beds have produced 1000's of pounds of fresh produce each year that are brought to Elijah's Promise Soup KItchen in New Brunswick on a bi-weekly basis during the growing season and used to provide casseroles for our monthly service to the SHIP's Galley Soup Kitchen in Somerville. In addition, we deliver bags of fresh produce to local families who utilize our food pantry. Flowers grown in the garden are brought to the homebound and frequently grace the altar for weekly Mass. Begun by a handful of parishioners, it is now a busy place with many volunteers who come to help with garden chores, to socialize, share faith, to pray and to provide service to others.
A composting program was begun in 2013 by a Girl Scout earning her Gold Award and continues to be an important part of the garden. A marked bin is located outside the church kitchen near the other garbage and recycling bins. Parishioners are encouraged to bring their compostable fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds etc. and deposit them in the compost bin. This bin is emptied regularly, mixed with other organic matter and used to fertilize the garden. For more information about what can be composted, check the lists posted in the church center kitchen. We also strive to compost any waste that we can from community events held at St. John's.
In the fall of 2015 we were ready for expansion and an additional 9000 square foot area was enclosed with fencing. All of the work was done by a group of enthusiastic volunteers. Within the fence is a small greenhouse built by a Boy Scout as an Eagle project. In April of 2016 twenty-seven raised beds were built and installed by another Boy Scout and his troop. Volunteers planted 160 asparagus crowns, 300 strawberry plants and 120 blueberry bushes. On May 1 of that year the
Gift of Good Land Community Garden was blessed and opened for planting. The raised beds are a place for the community to come and grow fresh organic food for themselves and others. The large plantings of perennial crops will add to our ability to provide fresh food in larger quantities to the local soup kitchens and food banks. Gardening instruction is provided to members who are interested.
In 2017 the Community Garden will open in late March to allow for planting of early cold weather crops. Members can also opt to plant a row of potatoes in a designated area of the garden. Plans are being developed to collect and store rain water from the church building for irrigation in the garden. Work is being done to find ways to extend the growing season in the greenhouse and make better use of this valuable resource.
All ages are welcome to participate in the Garden. If you are interested in helping with any aspect of this project please contact Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime--come out and visit the garden!