Students work on community gardenWORTHINGTON — Local youth from seven churches worked together Saturday to plant vegetables in an acre and a half of soil — a community garden behind Viking Terrace Apartments, whose produce will go toward local food shelves. “It’s important because there are a lot of people who are needy, that need the food and can’t afford to buy it,” said Sarah Waldner, 13, of Worthington.
WORTHINGTON — Local youth from seven churches worked together Saturday to plant vegetables in an acre and a half of soil — a community garden behind Viking Terrace Apartments, whose produce will go toward local food shelves.
“It’s important because there are a lot of people who are needy, that need the food and can’t afford to buy it,” said Sarah Waldner, 13, of Worthington.
The youth-sponsored community garden has been in the works since last July, when a group of middle school students from First Lutheran Church of Worthington went on an adventure trip together to Sugar Creek Bible Camp in Wisconsin.
The trips are typically considered training for high school mission work, but in this case, it also yielded the germ of an idea. The students were talking about oppression, and then they started talking about what they could do to help people in their own home towns. Several students claim credit for coming up with the community garden idea, but they all agree the project was a great idea.
Amy Loker, the youth and family minister at First Lutheran, knew right away that her students would need help if they wanted to pursue the project, and she began enlisting more people. Instead of solely drawing from her own congregation, she chose to expand involvement ecumenically, and got other churches involved.
As a result, between 50 and 100 youth are involved from Worthington Christian Church, First Baptist Church, American Reformed Church, the Solid Rock Assembly, St. Matthew’s Church and St. Mary’s Church.
“Every week a different church is in charge of taking care of the garden,” explained Nathan Faragher, 14, of Worthington, one of the youth involved in planting efforts Saturday.
Gardening will be a learning experience for many of the students involved in the project, including Nicholas Demuth, 14, of Worthington, who said his father maintained his family’s garden on his own.
Nearly all the fresh, local produce grown at the youth-sponsored community garden will go to the two Worthington-based food pantries, though students will also be growing a few things for residents of Viking Terrace.
Students from each church will take turns weeding and maintaining the garden on a weekly basis, alternating so no one gets burned out and everyone gets a chance to help out — making the garden a true community effort.
Then there’s the rapidly-expanding list of people and organizations that have donated to the project, including Lampert Yards, Avera, Runnings, Pizza Ranch of Worthington, GuidePoint Pharmacy and the Manna Food Pantry, as well as church members who donated plastic, tomato cages and other supplies.
Students got together Saturday and planted tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and zucchini in the garden, first laying down plastic on the soil to keep down the weeds.
“We want to cut down on the weeding, and grow a good amount of produce and feel good about the work we’re doing,” Loker said.