By Gray Styers
Last year, First Moravian Church on South Elam Avenue in Greensboro received a grant from the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America to establish a community garden to address food insecurity. This week, after numerous challenges, The Rev. Barbara Styers delivered the first fruits from the new garden to the food pantry at Greensboro Urban Ministries.
The urban garden, consisting of thirty raised beds, is built on a sloped hillside behind the parsonage next to the church. The church’s garden committee engaged their talents to:
- design the garden layout
- grade the slope
- purchase and install the beds
- run electricity and a water line to the garden
- implement a drip irrigation system
- assess sunlight patterns and soil quality
- construct a storage shed for tools
- decide what vegetables and herbs to plant.
They are now reaping the benefits of the seeds they sowed, figuratively and literally.“It’s still a work-in-progress,” said committee chair Sam Post, “but we have learned a lot and expect next year’s garden to be even more successful.”
The garden falls squarely within the mission and ministry of the church, according to First Moravian Church Pastor Barbara Styers. “From metaphors (faith the size of a mustard seed), to parables (the Sower spreading seeds), to explicit directives (“feed the hungry” in the Sermon on the Mount), the Bible is filled with references to gardening and food.”
The church is well-known for its Candle Tea and Lovefeasts at Christmas, multi-pointed stars, and paper-thin cookies. “We see this as the start of a new ministry to those in need in our community,” Pastor Styers added. “It is important to put our faith into action.”
Vince Holbrook, Director of Communication and Marketing of the Moravian Ministries Foundation, noted the church’s grant application fit the criteria of faith-based outreach, based on the Foundation’s Matthew 25 grant-making field of interest funds. “We’re extremely pleased with the progress of the garden in its first year and are excited by the long-term impact it will have.”
Starting with this week’s donation, the church is providing vegetables and herbs from the garden to the food pantry at Greensboro Urban Ministry. With no grocery stores near downtown, parts of Greensboro are described as “food deserts,” where affordable, nutritious and fresh food is hard to obtain. “We are very glad to have another source of produce for our ‘Client Choice’ food pantry,” observed Fritz Kreimer, director of the food pantry. “While canned goods are important to have, our clients especially enjoy fresh vegetables that are healthy and otherwise unavailable or too expensive to purchase.”
“Too many of our citizens struggle to feed their families; the problem is very real,” said Guilford County Commissioner Frankie Jones, Jr. “The public, private, not-for-profit, and faith-based sectors are working together in Guilford County to provide relief. We appreciate the efforts of long-standing institutions like Urban Ministries and new initiatives such as the garden at First Moravian to help our community.”
First Moravian Church in Greensboro was founded in 1908 and has been located on South Elam Avenue since the 1930s. Its motto is “United In Christ, Reaching Out With Love, Changing Lives.” Moravians are the oldest continuously practicing Protestant denomination in the world today. Most Moravians in North America live in the Triad area of North Carolina and in eastern Pennsylvania. More information about the church can be found at http://greensboromoravian.org/ and about the Moravian Ministries Foundation, at https://www.mmfa.com/who-we-are/ .