Reaping a great harvest

Published 7:46 pm Monday, November 23, 2009

If a group of Holland Baptist Church’s members needed a theme verse during the past six months or so, there’s a good chance it would have been Isaiah 30:23, which states, “He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful.”

‘Rich and plentiful’ surely describes the harvest the Holland church experienced this year in its first community garden. With 408 pounds of vegetables, in addition to 100 pounds of collards and a bushel and a half of leafy lettuce, the Holland garden turned out to be the most productive of those planted in Suffolk under the guidance of the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community.

The Suffolk Partnership helped area residents put together three community gardens in Suffolk this year, each with the goal of helping Suffolk citizens live healthier lifestyles and eat healthier foods. Gardens at the East Suffolk Community Center and at Chorey Park Apartments added a total of 544 pounds of vegetables, 75 pounds or so of collards, a bit of fruit and four more bushels of leafy lettuce to Suffolk’s green yield.

Having watched the Suffolk Community Garden Project begin to blossom and bear fruit this year, organizers have high hopes for next growing season, when they want to see dozens of gardens spring up in neighborhoods around the city.

Even with only three of the gardens in active cultivation this year, the benefits have been quite real, especially to some of the folks in Suffolk who are least able to provide for themselves. Vegetables grown in the gardens have been used to help senior citizens and widows served by Oak Grove Baptist Church, for the Salvation Army, for Suffolk House and for residents of the low-income Chorey Park neighborhood.

On Thursday, nearly 200 pounds of greens that were cut during the past few days will wind up on Thanksgiving dinner plates that likely would have been much lighter without the help of the volunteers who planted and cultivated seeds, who spent hours bent over weeds, who turned out to the garden on weekends and evenings from planting-time to harvest-time.

Suffolk’s community gardens exhibit the true spirit of community cooperation and support. Each of the three plots represented a labor of love, along with faith that God would honor here in Suffolk the promises that were made to a different people in a different land thousands of years ago.

Especially in this season of Thanksgiving, it is important for us to remember to thank Him for keeping those promises and for the faithful work of neighbors, friends and even strangers, who understood that the harvest could not come without the planting of seeds.