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Church Garden Produces Bountiful Graces by Paula Baines

Forty four feet by three feet boxes are lined up next to the back parking lot of Hampden Highlands United Methodist Church. Each is filled with produce of different kinds and yielding tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, and beans. It started with just small seeds that the Sunday school students planted last spring and were then others transplanted into the larger garden boxes. Now the garden is producing pounds of fresh produce for the local food pantry for Hampden Neighborhood Food Cupboard.
It is also producing bountiful graces for its members that taken part in growing this garden. Several from the church have toiled, weeded and watered this garden over the last five months.
Sue Wills, church member shared that this garden has positively impacted her daughter Rachael. Rachael has struggled over the last few years with homelessness and other personal issues. “She does not realize how working in this garden has changed her, but as her mom, I have seen the Holy Spirit working in her.”
The garden has provided hope, generosity, and grace in the current challenging times. Several members included Cynthia Buzzini, Laura Osborne, Linda Mosley, Sue Wills and her daughter Rachel, have pitched in over the summer to water, weed, and harvest produce and then delivering produce to the various area food cupboards, added Wills. Hampden Highlands United Methodist Church have donated to Hampden Neighborhood Food Cupboard
Linda Mosley, co-lay leader at Hampden Highlands UMC and board member of the food pantry noted that people have lined up earlier and earlier each week for their choice of produce.
When Hampden Neighborhood Food Cupboard began, almost twenty years ago, it served about 15 families on average each month. Now, the food pantry is serving 60 families on average in a month. These are families that have been hit hard by the recent economic downturns and rise in unemployment.
The realistic impact of the garden is not lost on its members, several members of the Administrative Council noted they have been blessed to serve and help their neighbors through this church project. In the next few months, Hampden Highlands United Methodist Church will be offering free cooking classes in the church kitchen for high school students, single parents, and others. HHUMC will teach how to use the autumn harvest from the garden in simple meal planning . Sue Wills is coordinating the cooking classes. So far, three people have stepped to volunteer as teachers, if you interested in teaching a class, contact Hampden Highlands at
862-4195 or hhumcme@yahoo.com
It is hope. It is generosity. It is grace that members at Hampden Highlands United Methodist Church are blessed to serve.

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