MARYVILLE (WATE) - Members of a local church are thanking God for a bountiful harvest this year from their community garden.
This was the second summer for the half-acre plot behind Broadway Baptist Church in Maryville.
While most of the produce is done for the season, the okra is still plentiful. The idea for the garden grew out of a desire for the church to connect more with its community.
"It's been a God thing," said Broadway Baptist Church Pastor Tony Collins.
For several Saturdays during peak season, church volunteers harvested the produce, bagged it up, and gave it away to anyone in need.
"Mostly single moms with kids and senior adults who love vegetables, but are not physically able to garden any more," Collins said.
The Saturday giveaways are over, but there are still a few vegetables left to pick.
"If anybody in the community wants it, they're welcome to come and cut it when they can," said church deacon and garden director Marlon McPherson.
"About every day when I come in I'll see somebody down here cutting okra or picking some peppers," said Collins.
He hopes the free food builds relationships.
"In our second year now we're getting to know some of these folks and when we have this extra time while they're waiting, we serve them coffee and donuts. We take prayer requests, try to find other way and means to pour into their lives," Collins said.
Seeing how much this garden has yielded, both tangible and not, makes it worth all the hard work for the volunteers.
"Some of the people who came through the line we've seen at church a few times after that, so it was a blessing," said McPherson.
Broadway Baptist is hoping more local churches will start planting community gardens. They're happy to share what they've learned with anyone who's interested.
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