RANDOLPH - In an effort to encourage the community to think about healthy eating choices, and to make the public aware of the church's community vegetable garden and produce stand, the United Presbyterian Church of Randolph recently held a tureen dinner and garden dedication.
A church service was held prior to the dedication ceremony where the Rev. Leslie Latham, pastor, blessed the garden and the produce stand as members of the congregation joined in prayer.
Church member Donna Chubon said this is the second year of the community garden. She said the garden came out of an original idea from a committee known as "New Beginnings Initiative," in an effort to reach out to the public and to let everyone know what the United Presbyterian Church is doing in the community.
Members of the United Presbyterian Church, in Randolph, recently dedicated their community garden. Church member Reg Boutwell, who is a Master Gardener, instructed the children on how to plant seeds. Pictured, counterclockwise, are: Emily Berger, Marley J., Claire L., Reagan L. and Jordan B.
Photo by Deb Everts
According to Chubon, garden plots are "adopted" and tended by community members. Those people can keep and use the vegetables they raise, or offer a portion of their harvest at the produce stand for others to use.
"Many community members visit the stand and either get veggies for their own use, or when their harvest is bountiful, donate and put veggies from their own gardens on the produce stand," she said.
Chubon said there is no charge for vegetables from the stand, however a donation box is provided that says "take what you need, give what you can." Proceeds go to the church's mission committee, which supports many local groups including Randolph's Community Cupboard, the St. Susan Center in Jamestown, Genesis House of Olean, those who need assistance with surgery costs, and local families in need.
According to Chubon, her husband, Dick, and Reg Boutwell built the produce stand. They also worked together on the raised beds, fencing and other projects associated with the community garden. Both Boutwell and Dick Chubon oversee the planting and care of the garden.
Boutwell, a church member and Master Gardener, said the church decided to develop the garden for the community to use the produce harvested from it about three years ago. He said the garden project was created in conjunction with the produce stand, which has been at the church for five or six years.
"The initial garden started out with four beds last year, and that was the first year we grew any produce," he said. "The garden beds were basically put in as a Boy Scout project by Austin Myers, of Randolph. He was responsible for the construction, which includes special raised beds for handicapped gardeners. With the help of a few other scouts, he built the wooden structures, filled the beds with dirt and got them ready for planting."
Boutwell said eight or nine volunteers planted the garden. Because they were late planting the first year, they didn't have anyone from the community who wanted to use the beds. This year, however, they have four people using the garden plots.
"People can ask for a plot and come in and plant what they want," he said. "Then, they can do what they want with the produce - use it all themselves or share it at the produce stand."
He added that the church would be very happy to accept produce from any community member who might have an overabundance or simply wants to share in their harvest at the stand. The community is encouraged to stop by the produce stand to select from an assortment of vegetables grown on the grounds of the church.
Funds for the Community Garden Project have been provided by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation's John McLaughlin Family Fund, Presbytery of WNY and the local mission committee.
Another project at the Presbyterian Church is the ongoing collection of scrap metal, which benefits both the church and the community. A few years ago, church member Tom Wade came up with the idea of collecting scrap metal to raise funds for the building of the church's new addition.
Anyone who wishes to dispose of scrap metal that may be cluttering their garage or yard may bring it to the church parking lot and put the metal in the red dumpster at the back.
Collection begins each spring in late March or early April and ends Nov. 1. Those needing assistance transporting scrap metal to the church, may call the church and leave a message at 358-4255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.