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Contributor and Photos: Deb Turner
The gardening project is a collaborative effort with LivingStones Ministry (a 501(3) organization), the Christian Community Center in San Rafael, My Courageous Generosity (Marie and Tom Kayser), Jack and Marilyn Hall, Mark Higgins, volunteers and of course the residents of San Rafael.
The composting element is what allows the garden to be…well, a garden. The Super California Market, which is also located in San Rafael, donates fruits and vegetables to the Community Center that are then separated – those that are edible go to the kitchen for the feeding program while inedible produce is sent to the composting barrels. My Courageous Generosity has provided gray barrels on stands to “cure” the compost. This process allows the barrels to be rotated during the composting process, which is a great curing method as it keeps the “stench” at a minimum.
Each day Mark and his group of volunteers sort out the donated produce and begin the daily process of separating, watering, cleaning, pruning, planting the seeds in cups, preparing the greenhouse and protecting the plants.
The gardens include a large area on the east side with rows for plants and a triangular area on the east side of the greenhouse. The interior of the greenhouse has been revamped by the Halls (project volunteers in the Fall and Winter), and now offers two rows of tabletops to accommodate all the cups with seedlings. Currently, the greenhouse is home to lettuce and herbs while carrots, onions, and potatoes have been planted in the ground.
As mentioned in a previous article about the Center’s program Cosecha de Dios, edible produce goes to the kitchen for food preparation for the daily lunch program and also distribution to local residents.
My Contagious Generation also assists families in the area to prepare raised bed gardens with seasonal plants that are a part of their customary dietary needs. This aspect provides fresh produce in helping supplement the diets of many families. It’s worth noting, some residents in San Rafael are still lacking electricity in their homes so these programs provide the opportunity of having food that can be stored.
In the future, The Christian Community Center anticipates the crops from the garden, along with donated produce, will provide all necessary ingredients for a canning and preserving component. This will allow San Rafael residents to attend classes to learn about safe healthy ways to preserve crops. The plan consists of graduating groups helping to work with new groups, and so on. These classes will take place in the Center’s kitchen.
As always, volunteers are needed to assist in the gardening program. Any composters or gardeners out there? No matter what time you may have to volunteer, Mark and his crew could always use your help.
Gardening not your gift? How about teaching? Day care skills? Cooking skills? Sports? Kids activities? Whatever your gift, the Center can always use your talents.
Living Stones Ministry is a 501(3) non-profit so donations from the U.S. are tax deductible.
For additional information, please contact:
Deb Turner Director of Acquisitions
Karen Higgins, International Director