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Our daily bread: Volunteers building an oasis in West End food desert
Reeder Memorial Baptist Church launches veggie garden
Published Friday, September 22, 2017 12:39 pm
by Herbert L. White

Volunteers from Sisters of Mercy and Reeder Memorial Baptist Church joined forces to build a vegetable garden to offset the effects of a food desert along Beatties Ford Road.

Reeder Memorial Baptist Church is heeding the call to feed the undernourished.

The church is cultivating a fresh vegetable garden as part of an initiative to as part to offset the effects of a food desert on its Beatties Ford Road neighbors. A food desert is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an area that lacks access to fresh food, leaving families to rely on processed or fast food options.

The Reeder Memorial congregation operates a canned food bank as one of the church’s largest ministries, but Senior Pastor Thomas Farrow Jr. believes the garden would encourage healthier food choices.

“We would not just be giving them food,” he said, “but giving them something that will make a difference in a long-lasting, meaningful way.”
Research by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council determined three areas that have a high food insecurity risk: West Boulevard Corridor (Highway 160 between Billy Graham Parkway and I-485), Brookshire Boulevard Corridor (NC Highway 16 between Interstate 85 and I-485) and Albemarle Rood Corridor (Highway 27 between I-485 and the Union County line).

Reeder’s congregation, community volunteers, Mercy Associates, and Sisters of Mercy gathered Saturday for “Unity in the Community Day” to build organic garden beds at the church and plant carrots, radishes, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. Mercy associates from across the U.S. who were in Belmont to attend a meeting volunteered for project.

“We want to pretty much have things in place when spring rolls around,” said Ty Barnes, director of Mercy Association and a Reeder Memorial member. “This is an effort to build interfaith community because we are one church and it’s important for us to work collaboratively on some things and break down barriers.”

Because whole foods – especially fresh fruits and vegetables – are in short supply and inaccessible in food deserts, residents are often at risk of obesity and related diseases.

“I would hope the garden would be something that would catch on and expand,” Farrow said. “I would love to meet new people in and around our church. There are a lot of apartments around us and people don’t have room to garden.” Among the church’s next steps are plans to offer cooking classes on fresh food preparation.


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