MADISONVILLE, KY (WFIE) - The Madisonville First Christian Church community garden supplies thousands of pounds of fresh organic produce to the Christian Food Bank every year, all from the hands of dedicated volunteers and master gardeners.
This year alone, they’ve donated 3,000 lbs of food.
Since they started weighing the food in 2015, the community garden has donated around 14,000 lbs of food to Christian Food Bank.
“It’s as fresh as it’s going to get 'cuz we grow it here, pick it up, send it down there to the food bank and they’ll distribute it out,” one of the master gardeners, Larry Stone, said.
Stone says they use very little chemicals if any at all on the produce.
“Here I don’t even know if they’ve sprayed anything. I think we had to kill some squash bugs 'cuz they were just overrunning this. But if we spray it’s very minimal," Stone said.
Stone has been gardening his entire life, minus three years when he was in the Army.
“My mother used to make us get out there and do it and I hated it. And now I love doing it, I love doing it," Stone said.
Philip McCoy, the Director of the Christian Food Bank says the donations from First Christian Church fill a huge need.
The church “provides products that are sort of out of reach for the population that we serve. It’s fresh, locally grown, organic produce that normally costs a lot of money," McCoy said.
From March through November each year, volunteers spend countless hours getting their hands dirty.
In the summer months, Mary Haylee Hancock, one of the master gardeners, said they pick produce on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to keep up with the amount they grow.
“I think it’s in your genes that you like to have your hands in the dirt... they’ve proven there is something that is released in the soil or whatever that lifts your spirits,” Hancock said.
The volunteers said it is equally as beneficial for them as for those receiving the fresh produce. For Stone and Hancock gardening is more than a passion, it’s therapeutic.
“When you get out here, you relax. You don’t think of nothing but what you need to do to the garden. You try to put the world’s troubles behind you,” Stone said.
“It’s good for your soul, your spirit. I’ve had breast cancer and I used it as my therapy for using my arm... my husband was sick I would go out and work in the yard and feel better," Hancock said.
She said gardening it’s a therapy that has been lost in the age of Apple.
“We’ve lost that connection to the plants and to the outdoor world. Our kids don’t get outside enough. It’s just better for you to be connected to the world around you,” Hancock said. “A lot of people don’t even know the plants in their own yard."
But this garden in the First Christian Church’s backyard will continue to be a labor of love.
One that bears much fruit.