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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

092917 mercyCHARLOTTE — What if you had to walk to a bus stop, ride at least a mile to a grocery store to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, and then carry them back home?

That journey might be too difficult, and you’d turn to nearby convenience stores and fast food restaurants instead. In this scenario, there’s a strong possibility you and your neighbors live in a “food desert” – a location nearly barren of fresh food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Reeder Memorial Baptist Church on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte is located in one of these food deserts.

The church already runs a food pantry, but Senior Pastor Thomas Farrow Jr. believes a fresh vegetable garden would encourage residents to make healthier food choices. “We would not just be giving them food, but giving them something that will make a difference in a long-lasting, meaningful way,” he said.

On Sept. 16, church and community volunteers, Mercy Associates and Sisters of Mercy gathered for “Unity in the Community Day” to build and prepare organic garden beds and plant carrots, radishes, collard greens and Brussels sprouts on church property.

“We want to pretty much have things in place when spring rolls around,” said Ty Barnes, director of Mercy Association and a member of Reeder Memorial. “This is an effort to build interfaith community because we are one church and it’s important for us to work collaboratively on some things and break down barriers.”

Some 50 Mercy Associates from across the U.S., who were attending a meeting in Belmont over the weekend, volunteered for the gardening service project. Pictured with Barnes are Alex Roman and Tanya Pitts.

“I would hope the garden would be something that would catch on and expand,” said Farrow. “I would love to meet new people in and around our church. There are a lot of apartments around us and people don’t have room to garden.” Among the church’s next steps are plans to offer cooking classes on fresh food preparation.
In addition to the garden, other events at Unity in the Community Day included a blood drive, health screenings, softball and basketball, bouncy houses for children, music and a cookout.

— Photo provided by Beth Thompson