Allie’s Garden in the Time of COVID-19

by Al Johnson, Co-Chair, Earth Ministry

Allie’s Organic Garden at UUCWC was alive and well in 2020. Earth Ministry started the garden in 2012 to provide fresh produce for the Monday Tutoring and Wacky Wednesday meals provided for the HomeFront Children and for Food Ministry meals. The garden has evolved over the years. We started with a mish mash of whatever seeds were available but for the last five years, we have concentrated on blocks of 5 crops that fit the following criteria:

  • Relatively easy to grow
  • Useable by our food programs, particularly in fresh salads or various soups & casseroles
  • Crops that are relatively easy to pick or could be picked once, maybe twice a week.

With some minor variation, such as adding butternut squash for making pies for the HomeFront Thanksgiving meal, there has been little change that is, until 2020 came along. Without the HomeFront Tutoring program or Food Ministry Meals and with no one in the office who could turn on the water with a simple phone request, we had to adapt for 2020. We chose 3 crops, each of which could be completely harvested in one day. Earth Ministry members volunteered for planting and harvests and signed up for weeks for which they were responsible for watering if needed.

In August we were happy to deliver 14 pounds of onions to the HomeFront Distribution Pantry and then in November, we delivered 23 pounds of carrots.

In November we delivered 180 pounds of carrots and 50 pounds of Butternut Squash to Rolling Harvest. This organization provides produce to charitable meal programs in NJ and eastern PA.  UUCWC’s David Earling and Maria Nicolo have generously made their Gravity Hill Farm storage space and now their cropped farmland available to Rolling Harvest. More information on Rolling Harvest and Gravity Hill Farm volunteer opportunities can be found on their website:

Al Johnson and Wendy Stasolla harvesting carrots.

Thanks to all who loaned a hand for the 2020 garden, of which Earth Ministry is proud. We are already looking forward to our 2021 crop year. Reflecting on the monthly themes of Imagination and Beloved Community as they relate to our mission, we offer this quote:

“What is good for us is our own roof over our heads, a good meal on the table, pure air, soil and water all around, and a secure family and good friends, in a true community, to keep us company.  Those are our basic needs.  Their fulfillment must be society’s first goal.  Their guaranteed availability should be our sacred right.” – Ferenc Mate