October 2, 2014

The Harvest Table

harvesttable

Church of the Wildwood, United Methodist Church in Chittenden, Vermont wanted a tactile way to connect to their community and reach out to their neighbors and positively impact their health and well-being. They came up with the idea of a “Harvest Table,” that would act as a space where members of the community could give what they could and take what they needed.

They set up the Harvest Table under a tent in the small front lawn in front of the church and put up a sign advertising that anyone could leave extra produce or unused seeds and seedlings. They also invited people to take what they could use for their own homes and gardens in order to supplement their diet or plant their own food.

In addition, they created a garden with a few raised beds and planted greens, herbs, beans and cucumbers along with tomato vines on the fence around their church. They added this to the offerings at the Harvest Table.

Word of the Harvest Table spread around the community in Chittenden and donations began flowing in. In corn season, people would buy a dozen ears from a local farmer, and leave half for someone else. During cucumber season, the table overflowed with people’s generosity. Members of the church would deliver the extra food to the local food kitchen each week.

Through the community garden and the Harvest Table, the church brought a sense of community to Chittenden and taught people about the importance of caring for both the earth and those in need.

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October 2, 2014

Zero Waste Soup Kitchen

University United Methodist Church in Austin, TX, serves brunch to 300 homeless neighbors each Saturday. Through recycling and composting, brunch guests help the program run trash free.

University UMC is an urban church with a number of social justice ministries, including Open Door, a Saturday brunch for about 300 people experiencing homelessness. For many years, the church relied on volunteers to carry home recyclables from Open Door. But the church has expanded its recycling contract and added commercial composting service, and Open Door now runs trash free.

In its Cool Congregations Challenge entry, University United Methodist noted that it had composted more than 27,000 gallons of waste. The church has also quadrupled its recycling program as it works to serve vulnerable neighbors in the most healthy efficient, and environmentally sound means possible.

A core group of volunteers helps new volunteers and Open Door guests learn proper separation of recyclable and compostable waste. Congregants reported in their entry, “The composting and recycling program works because the homeless community embraces it. Not only does our Open Door program help connect local citizens from various backgrounds in a way that is eco-friendly, but it also empowers those who are experiencing homelessness to learn about and contribute to a deeper and more responsible relationship with our greater world.”

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October 1, 2014

Garden of Grace

The God’s Garden of Grace project, started by St Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran’s in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, began as a single farmers dream to provide food to hungry people. After looking at the church property, members of the parish realized that their 9,000 square foot lawn could be better used as a community garden.

They began to till the land and choose crops would most benefit the people in their community. The reached out to other organizations in the area and soon the Girl Scouts, the Volunteer Fire Department, the Rotary Club, and a legion of community volunteers were working together to produce food. They tested the soil, created fences to keep out pests, and local farmers volunteered to plow and advise.

Soon cabbage, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squash filled the former lawn. The garden became extremely productive and volunteers began to distribute the produce for free to five food pantries and a homeless shelter. In all, the God’s Garden of Grace project donated over 11,000 pounds of produce to people in need. Their ambitious project helped to reduce carbon emissions by keeping food local and also brought a community together to feed hundreds.
godsgarden2

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September 15, 2014

Food Waste

Nearly 40% of the food we grow, distribute, put on store shelves then ultimately buy as consumers never get’s eaten. It’s called food waste and people like Andrew  doing something about it by gleaning, composting, and even learning to eat from head to tail to eliminate waste.

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September 15, 2014

How Healthy is Your Food?

When you buy food at the grocery store, do you actually know how healthy it is? Those nutrition labels on the side of the box provide a few nutrition details. But it leaves out the healthiness of the ingredients. And what about how the food was produced?

Check out this new tool from the Environmental Working Group called Food Scores. The tool rates a bunch of different categories of food including cereal, baby food, candy, and vegetables by their overall healthiness and how environmentally friendly they are.

There are over 80,000 different products in the database. If you are interested in the truth of how healthy your food is, check it out here.

Food Scores tool

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