This spring, 50 plots of land will be available for planting just outside downtown Kannapolis.
First Wesleyan Church is working with the Kannapolis Environmental Stewardship Commission and local farmer Brad Hinckley to offer residents a community garden.
The church will supply the land and the water. Hinckley will offer free seedlings and gardening guidance. The city is providing connections and support.
"This is a very exciting partnership and a great project for our commission," Renee Goodnight, Kannapolis community outreach coordinator, said in a news release. "Community gardens have been very successful in many places across the U.S. I hope we can implement them in various parts of the city."
James Matchette, First Wesleyan's senior pastor, said the city asked the church about hosting a garden.
First Wesleyan is near many of the people the city hopes will use the garden, including people who live in nearby apartment complexes that have no land for gardens.
"They found our church right in the center of an area that seemed to fit," Matchette said.
About half an acre of a flat, grassy field on church property will be tilled into 50 plots in three sizes this spring.
Residents can pay $20, $30 or $40, depending on plot size, to lease one for a year.
Gardeners can plant Hinckley's free seeds and seedlings or use their own, Matchette said.
For those with no gardening experience, Hinckley will plant a "teaching plot" and offer advice on gardening.
Matchette said he's already getting calls about the garden, but applications for plots won't be accepted until the first community garden public meeting Thursday.
Many in the First Wesleyan congregation had never heard of a community garden, but now they are looking forward to hosting one, Matchette said.
"We're excited about the opportunity to work with the city to make this community a better place," he said. "As a congregation, we care deeply for this community and are already trying to build relationships with people (here)."
The garden will allow people to grow healthy, affordable and environmentally friendly produce, he said. It will also be an opportunity for people to talk to each other, he said.
"We used to all sit out on our front porches and talk to our neighbors, and we've lost some of that over time," he said. "We'll get to know the names of our neighbors once again."
For details, call First Wesleyan at 704-932-8308, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or attend the community meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the church, 301 Bethpage Road, Kannapolis.