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Local church plowing land for community garden

5/2/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Land behind First Baptist Church of Akron soon will be plowed in preparation for a community garden.
Photo courtesy of the Rev. Bob Beals
WEST AKRON — A piece of land behind the First Baptist Church of Akron on Shatto Avenue will soon be used to sow seeds in the community.

Due to declines in membership and giving, church leadership decided to stop putting resources into mowing the almost 2 acres of land, according to the Rev. Bob Beals, the church’s senior pastor. Now, a portion of that land will soon be plowed in preparation for a community garden, he said.

Beals said the idea to create a community garden came from his wife, Cindi, along with Master Gardener John Knott.

Knott, who is a longtime member of the church, will use his farm tractor to plow the land as part of the preparation for its new purpose, according to Beals.

Between 30 and 42 plots are planned, which will be free to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, said Beals.

Each plot will be 15 feet by 25 feet, and half-plots also will be available for those intimidated by the larger size, he added.

People will need to bring their own implements to work in the garden. The church will provide water harvested through rain barrels from the church building’s roof, he said.

On May 12, the church is planning to hold its 10:30 a.m. worship service outside, weather permitting, during which they will dedicate the garden. As soon as church is over that day, anyone who has reserved a plot can start planting, he said.

The pastor said he suspects tomatoes and snap peas will be popular crops in the garden, but the plots are big enough for pumpkins and watermelon patches.

Beals and Knott have reserved a plot to work together, and their plan is to give away whatever food they grow to community members in need, according to the pastor.

Besides tomatoes and snap peas, the community may find cucumber, zucchini and eggplant in their plot, he said.

Beals added he thinks the garden will create a lot of food for a lot of people, but part of the ministry’s purpose will be to help people help themselves, he added.

“What I’m finding is I love giving food [to people in need], but that’s such a tip of the iceberg,” he said. “[By just giving food], we’re basically throwing water into a bucket with holes in it.”

Allowing people in the community free plots in the garden is part of the effort to plug up the holes, he added.

“I’m really excited about what’s going on,” he said. “We’re just trying to show people that God is moving in West Akron.”

A first meeting of all gardeners who sign up is planned for May 8. Anyone interested in reserving a plot should call the church at 330-867-2121.

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