When First Presbyterian Church in Concord started to explore the possibilities of providing food for the needy in 2014, member Elizabeth Anne Dover agreed to be their guide.
The farm at Dover Vineyards in Concord, owned by her and her parents, Audy and Margaret Ann Dover, was already donating greens to the local charitable food suppliers, so Dover knew all the contacts and how to raise the crops.
Elizabeth Anne Dover’s business began donating food for those in need in 2012 because “I know there is a huge need for nutritious food out there. There’s a real need for nutritious food and education on how to cook nutritious food at the shelters and food distribution centers.”
Mary Ann Johnson, church volunteer organizer for the Gracious Greens Garden project, said Dover has been instrumental in the success of the garden. Not only does she donate four or five rows of land for the use of the garden, she advises the group on when to plant, what to plant, when to weed and when to harvest.
Johnson said the church has planted three gardens, two each spring and one in the fall. They provide kale, collard and mustard greens to First Assembly, Cooperative Christian Ministry, Evangel Worship Center, Meals on Wheels, Hope House and Opportunity House.
“We get a lot out of it too,” said Johnson. “The best part is all the visiting we get to do with our church friends as we work.”
The group was harvesting kale in the early morning June 16, trying to beat the heat. One of the hottest days that week, it was pushing 90 degrees before they stopped around 9:30 a.m.
Judy Mongold, the record keeper for the group, was busy picking kale and weeding the row as the sun beat down on her. “We are 100 pounds away from our goal of a ton,” she said as she emptied one basket into the bag her husband, George Mongold, was holding.
She said the church has about 30 volunteers that help with the planting and 12 that show up for harvesting. Girl Scout Troop 334, based at the church, helped harvest and weed twice as the group moved toward its goal.
Judy Mongold said they harvested 48 pounds on June 16, bringing their total to date to 1,935 pounds of greens donated during the three gardens. With only one harvest left this summer, Pastor Peter Bynum said, “We are confident that we will meet our goal of one ton very soon.”
If they fall short on the next harvest, there will always be the next garden, which they will be planting in late August.
Marty Price is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to know more?
First Presbyterian Church’s Gracious Greens Garden project: www.firstpresconcord.org (click “Mission”).
The Farm at Dover Vineyards is at 3600 Concord Parkway S., Concord. Details: www.thefarmatdovervineyards.com.