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‘No one goes hungry’

Church garden fosters fellowship and community outreach

Special to The Sun: First Presbyterian Church of Moorestown’s Mustard Seed Cooperative Garden grows fresh produce that is donated to the Moorestown Ministerium Food Pantry and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish on Main Street.

First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Moorestown invites residents to celebrate the official opening of the Mustard Seed Cooperative Garden on Monday, July 24, at 6 p.m. 

Moorestown Mayor Nicole Gillespie, members of town council and the Ritter family – who funded the initial construction of the garden – will dedicate it with a ribbon cutting. FPC senior pastor Rev. Stuart Spencer will lead the celebration and the blessing of the garden, and the Ritter family will cut the ribbon to commemorate the start of a new ministry to the community.

“People have been talking for several years about just an interest in having some type of community garden,” said Mustard Seed coordinator Leslie Spencer.

The garden committee – formed last summer – includes Spencer, master gardener Toni Farmer and deacon liaison Susan Shaffer. The garden itself is open to all members of the community regardless of religious affiliation and to those of all abilities. The intent is to create community through gardening, and it is a collaborative effort to grow produce while fostering fellowship and community outreach.

“The interest was always not just to have individual plots where people come and have their own gardens, but that it really become a ministry and an outreach of the church,” Spencer explained. “In some fashion, we wanted to do this really as a way to serve the community, especially people who may not have access to fruits and vegetables.”

FPC’s vision for the Mustard Seed Cooperative Garden is clear: to offer a space where people from the church and the community can gather to grow, prepare and enjoy fresh foods, ensuring everyone has access to nutritious produce. The church also cooks and provides ideas for meals using produce from the garden.

“We are called to love our neighbors, to be good neighbors, to particularly pay attention to those in our community who may need more support,” Spencer noted. “The vision of the garden is to be a place where we can feed people in our community, particularly people who are food insecure.”

“In the future, we hope to do some garden education … because we would really like to make sure that everyone in our community has access to fresh, healthy foods,” she added.

The church has donated the garden’s lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, summer squash and mint to the Moorestown Ministerium Food Pantry and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish. In the coming weeks, FPC wants to have more to share, including tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and peas. 

The garden is located in the grassy area near the church’s parking lot and the Labyrinth. It’s designed to meet three goals: to use the space efficiently for maximal food production; invite people to sit and enjoy the area; and to be accessible to people of all ability levels, including those who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices. 

To volunteer, help with the garden or learn more about its grand opening, visit https://www.fpcmoorestown.org/mustard-seed-garden/.

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