Macomb Woman Harvests Volunteers to Grow Community Garden
Macomb Township resident Jennifer Moore isn't growing just a garden, she's growing a community of volunteers through The Gathering Patch at Immanuel Lutheran Church.
“You meet such interesting people and get to know why gardening is such an awesome task—why people like it so much,” Moore said. “You’re close to the earth and for me, the biggest thing to is to know God better. I think you see firsthand the miracles that have occurred from (the garden).”
When Immanuel Lutheran Church set out to plant “The Gathering Patch” two years ago, Moore, 39, of Macomb Township, was an early and frequent volunteer.
“She ended up doing it the most—said it was her quiet time to just sit and reflect on life,” said Karen Reincke, project organizer and Immanuel Lutheran staff member. “Last year, I asked her if she would just take charge and be my core volunteer for the planning, planting and organizing.”
Moore took her new responsibility to heart and set out to find green-thumbed volunteers and donations to cover the garden’s expenses.
While her own children are frequent volunteers, Moore has brought volunteers of all ages to the garden, including Eagle Scouts whose projects in the garden include the building of bench tool sheds and a compost heap.
Donations from local companies such as H20 Irrigation, Deneweth’s Garden Center, Home Depot and Ray Wiegand's Nursery helped start the garden in 2010 and a Michigan State University Extension grant for 2011 covered additional expenses and assisted Moore in implementing best practices in planting and organization.
“We were blessed with a grant from the MSU Extension to buy more supplies like tools and plants as well as extra soil, compost and mulch,” Moore said. “Hopefully in the coming years, there might even be some things we can grow in the winter. The MSU Extension is really into getting things that grow in the winter.”
And the more produced the better, as every fruit and vegetable grown in the garden is donated to a local food pantry.
Last year, the garden produced 400 pounds of tomatoes alone, Moore said.
“I think I filled my trunk—and I drive an SUV—six to seven times completely with tomatoes,” she said. “We’ve been able to freeze some of them, too, to give to families who visit our pantry (at Immanuel).”
That the garden’s labor is 100 percent volunteer, its supplies 100 percent donated and its produce 100 percent given back to the community is something Reincke credits to Moore’s unwavering dedication.
“She took it to heart,” Reincke said. “It is her way of serving.”
And it continues to be Moore’s hope that others will join her in this service and make the garden a true community effort in years to come.
“I’ve noticed a lot of people who spend the afternoon with us out there want to come back,” Moore said. “When we’re out there together, interesting things always happen.”
Those interested in volunteering can contact the Immanuel office at 586-286-4321.
Though planted on Immanuel’s property, Moore stresses that the garden is a community effort and open to volunteers of all ages and occupations—green thumbs or not.