First Moravian Greensboro garden flourishes to fight hunger

Food deserts are often found in downtown areas around the country. This means there are no grocery stores to provide affordable, nutritious and fresh foods for residents. First Moravian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, wanted to do something to help those who are hungry.

Last year, the church applied for and received a grant from the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America (MMFA) to address this issue. The funds enabled First Moravian Church Garden Committee to build and maintain 30 raised beds on a sloped hill behind the parsonage.

This project has had its challenges. The garden team had to: grade the slope, run electricity and waterlines, implement a drip irrigation system and construct a storage shed for tools. The team also had to assess the sunlight patterns and soil quality for the most effective garden layout in this urban setting.

First Moravian Pastor Barbara Styers, with Fritz Kreimer, director of the food pantry at Greensboro Urban Ministries.

This past July, the Rev. Barbara Styers delivered the first fruits from the new garden to the food pantry at Greensboro Urban Ministries. “The garden falls squarely within the mission and ministry of the church,” said Barbara. “From metaphors like faith the size of a mustard seed, to the parable of the sower spreading seeds, to explicit directives to feed the hungry from Jesus during the Sermon of the Mount, the Bible is filled with references to gardening and food.”

“It’s important to put our faith into action,” Barbara continued. “Our church is well-known in the community for its Candle Tea and Lovefeast at Christmas, multi-pointed stars and paper-thin cookies. This is the start of a new ministry to help those in need in our community.”

“It’s still a work-in-progress,” said committee chair Sam Post, “but we have learned a lot and expect next year’s garden to be even more successful.”

“The church’s grant application fit the criteria of a faith-based outreach, based on the Foundation’s Matthew 25 grant-making field of interest funds,” said Vince Holbrook, director of communications and marketing for MMFA, “We are extremely pleased with the progress of the garden in its first year and are excited by the long-term impact it will have.”

Fritz Kreimer, director of the food pantry said, “We are very glad to have another source of produce for our ‘Client Choice’ food pantry. While canned goods are important to have, our clients especially enjoy fresh vegetables that are healthy and otherwise unavailable or too expensive to purchase.”

“Too many of our citizens struggle to feed their families; the problem is very real,” said Guilford County Commissioner Frankie Jones, Jr. “The public, private, not-for-profit, and faith-based sectors are working together in Guilford County to provide relief. We appreciate the efforts of long-standing institutions like Urban Ministries and new initiatives such as the garden at First Moravian to help our community.” 

Gray Styers is a member of the First Moravian Garden Committee.