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Lorain church starts urban garden for community meals, unity

Posted at 9:33 AM, Aug 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-09 09:33:06-04

LORAIN, Ohio — Parishioners at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Lorain turned a vacant lot into an urban garden and are using their crops to not only nourish their neighbors, but also to bring them together for something positive.

Seed by seed and piece by piece, the group of community gardeners are growing a better Lorain.

“It actually started with a conversation about food waste, our community meals put out a lot of food waste, and we wanted to do something with them,” Father Alexander Barton, with the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, said.

Barton says church parishioners came up with the idea of starting an urban garden to do something about the waste, but also to grow fresh, healthy foods for their community meals program.

“We’re growing two different types of beans, radishes, cucumbers, rainbow chard, a bunch of different types of tomato, zucchini, and pumpkins, as of right now. We’re hoping to also start growing some stuff that will go into the winter, like onions and carrots and other greens,” Barton said.

But the garden, in what was once a vacant lot at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 12th Street in downtown Lorain, has become much more than a food source.

“Every Wednesday we'll do a volunteer night,” Barton said. “People from all different walks of life with very different life stories, some of which are pretty hard, coming together to garden, and to learn new ways to garden and new ways to communicate with each other.”

He says people showing up for the garden shows him what he’s always believed to be true about Lorain.

“There’s a lot of people who when they look at Lorain, whether they've been here for a long time or not, just see the economic depression and not the potential - especially in the people. And our experience with this garden and some of our other outreach ministries is that in Lorain when good things are happening, people show up,” Barton said.

And he’s hoping that this garden is just the first of many in the city, along with the beginning of a broader community gardening program.

“We hope that we can use this to prove to the city of Lorain and also the community that not only is a community garden a healthy and good place, and it's good to have local food, but that it's also beautiful,” Barton.

Anyone is welcome to volunteer at the garden, they do not have to be a member of the church. Volunteer gardening nights are every Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and Barton says anyone interested can just show up.

“Check out Church of the Redeemer on Facebook or Gateway Farms on Facebook and just send us a message - say you're interested and there's all sorts of ways that we can use people and have them help at the garden or with our food ministries,” Barton said.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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