Innovation with wide application
Is there a bit of earth—neglected and half wild—on your corps property or in your community?
Wondering what you can do to help others during this time of need?
Re-claim the land—start a community garden!
These gardens—started by Salvation Army locations in partnership with individuals and groups from the community—are springing up across the nation. In the Western Territory, two recently began, one in Riverside, Calif., and the other in Centennial, Colo. In McMinnville, Ore., the Salvation Army community garden has been operating for years—since 2003—and was featured in the October 9, 2008 New Frontier (Vol. 26, No. 17); you find the story at www.salvationarmy.usawest.org/newfrontier.
In April, the Riverside Corps joined the University of California at Riverside (UCR) and the student group Sustainable UCR to create a garden that will meet the increased needs of students and neighbors and strengthen ties within the community. Dan Aldrich, interim vice chancellor for university advancement, noted: “One of the toughest things for The Salvation Army to obtain for its food bank is fresh produce. UCR is pleased to create an opportunity for people to grow their own produce and honors Chancellor [Timothy] White’s desire to be a compassionate campus.”
The university offered the land—already tilled and mulched—and no cost to gardeners and is providing the water. The Salvation Army and Sustainable UCR will manage the garden jointly, assigning 6-by-6 foot plots to individuals and families. All gardeners may donate their excess crops to the Army’s food bank.
Riverside Corps Officer Major Rick Peacock said, “I know there will be hungry people, hungry children in Riverside tonight,” and noted that the garden is part of the “recession survival plan” of impoverished families in the community.
In Centennial (Denver South Valley), Colo., in early May, Eagle Scout hopeful John Stults directed over 30 volunteers in creating a community garden, originally the brainchild of Centennial corps member Nancy Boehler, who credits the Lord with the idea.
“Every summer I saw that unused ground and it seemed such a waste,” said Boehler. “I thought of growing wonderful fresh vegetables that could be given to clients at the corps’ food pantry. The clients get so much food that is just canned and boxed.”
Boehler presented the idea to the corps council, who got behind her through prayer and by seeking local resources. After an announcement at the Sunday service, others volunteered to help.
An answer to prayer came the week following the corps announcement, when Stults called the corps looking for an Eagle Scout project. When he heard about the garden, he grew excited and went to work to make it happen.
Under his leadership—with volunteers from the corps and donations from the community—the idea be-
came a reality.
The current six garden beds are just the beginning—more plot space is available. As volunteers come forward, this former patch of weeds can begin to feed many people.
Take a look around your corps and neighborhood with fresh eyes—is there some space—a bit of land—that can yield food for the hungry in your community
Captain John Bennett, Centennial Corps, contributed to this article.