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Eau Claire church grows vegetable garden to fight food insecurity

Members at First Presbyterian Church in Eau Claire hope to donate 600 pounds of vegetables to local food pantries before the growing season ends.
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 5:23 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - For the last three years, a vegetable garden has been blooming at First Presbyterian Church in Eau Claire.

The garden is part of a church mission and vegetables grown there are donated to St. Francis Food Pantry in an effort to fight food insecurity.

Kathy Walker, a minister at the church and her husband Bilhenry Walker lead the garden project.

“It is a great way during the pandemic that people can be outside doing something useful and they seem to enjoy it,” Kathy says.

In the garden you can find tomatoes, eggplant, rutabaga, radishes, carrots and more. In its role as an Earth Care Congregation, the garden is also feeding bees and butterflies.

“We are giving our time and our treasury and that is important we don’t ask for thanks in return,” says Bilhenry, who tends to the garden every day.

This summer, as many struggle with finances due to COVID-19, the garden proves to be more important than ever.

“We realized there are more people in need of food this year in Eau Claire so we are hoping to produce more food this year,” Kathy says.

Not only does the garden provide nutrition for the community, it also offers an opportunity for parishioners to work together.

“It’s been great. Lots of people contribute and make it a real good space,” Kathy says.

“We wanted to engage the entire church. We have young people doing it and we have elders doing it, really elders, people in their 90s,” Bilhenry says. “People who are older have knowledge which they can impart to me and i can impart that to others.”

Walker has created a schedule for parishioners to help tend to the garden, many of whom spend hours each week picking ripe vegetables, watering plants and helping to keep bugs away.

“You never know when you will be in a position to need help some day so it is fun to be in a position to help others and it is fun to do,”says Joyce Crowell who works in the garden with her daughter Heather every Sunday.

The garden is mostly funded by parishioners and donations from the Eau Claire Garden Society and Presbyterian Women. So far, the church has raised nearly $800. To donate, click here.

This year, the gardeners hope to donate 600 pounds of vegetables.

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