Maryville church working to feed members and those in need throu

Maryville church working to feed members and those in need through hydroponic gardening

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At Cedar Point Church in Maryville, Pastor Kurt Steinbach is on a mission. This spring, he and members of his church began the Harvest Farms Co-op. At Cedar Point Church in Maryville, Pastor Kurt Steinbach is on a mission. This spring, he and members of his church began the Harvest Farms Co-op.
Their goal is to feed their membership healthy, organic vegetables and have enough left over to feed others less fortunate. Their goal is to feed their membership healthy, organic vegetables and have enough left over to feed others less fortunate.
"Going vertical, we can get so much more in the amount of space that we have. I think to grow the same amount of vegetables in ground would take about five times the ground," said Pastor Kurt Steinbach. "Going vertical, we can get so much more in the amount of space that we have. I think to grow the same amount of vegetables in ground would take about five times the ground," said Pastor Kurt Steinbach.

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - At Cedar Point Church in Maryville, Pastor Kurt Steinbach is on a mission. This spring, he and members of his church began the Harvest Farms Co-op.

Their goal is to feed their membership healthy, organic vegetables and have enough left over to feed others less fortunate.

They plan to do that by hydroponic gardening.

Rows of plants will soon be filled with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and more. In a matter of weeks, members of the Harvest Farms Co-op will begin the harvest.

These gardens, contained in four shade houses, grow without soil. The plants, stacked in boxes, one on top of the other, sit in re constructed coconut fibers, giving the roots something to latch onto. Above the boxes is a watering system that feeds nutrients directly to the plants.

"Going vertical, we can get so much more in the amount of space that we have. I think to grow the same amount of vegetables in ground would take about five times the ground," said Steinbach.

The system was purchased by the church from Florida company Verti-Gro. A similar system can be found at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.

Steinbach says the plants require no pesticides or herbicides. It's all organic and the yields are expected to be bigger than average.

"The yields are not only bigger and tastier, we'll find out, but also the amount of produce that comes out of each plant is quite a bit more. Of course, the plants are on GMO, not genetically modified, so we're trying to make sure people are healthy all the way around," he said

Right now, the co-op has about 100 families, many church members, but not all.

The pastor says growing food is only one reason for the garden. It's also about creating a strong sense of community.

"I think people in general are warm, but the culture is a bit cold in the sense that we go to work and do our thing and go home, and we've lost a lot of sense of community just in gathering people together. That's why coffee shops are popular," said the pastor. "So our goal in creating a cooperative and sense of community, where it's not someone working and come by and buy vegetables. So everybody's involved."

If all goes well, Pastor Steinbach says next year, they'll double the number of shade houses and the amount of food they grow.

It’s all part of feeding the soul through a garden Made in Tennessee.

Pastor Steinbach says anyone can be a part of Harvest Farms Co-op. The cost is $60. 

More online: Harvest Farms Co-Op

If you know of a product we should profile for Made in Tennessee, send Gene Patterson an email or a Facebook message.
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