During the Sunday worship service, the Revs. Jen Newell and Cliff Hudson led a procession from First Cumberland Presbyterian Church to the new garden located at Montgomery and Central downtown.
A blessing and benediction closed the worship service at the garden site.
Two special guests were present for the ceremony; Ricky Tallent (president of the Bradley County Master Gardeners) and Jennifer Norton, director of the Greenway Table.
Both organizations have been most helpful. This is how the story of the launch of the community garden ended; but not how it began.
First Cumberland has long desired to create a garden ministry in the heart of downtown but obstacles and technicalities proved difficult.
Plans to secure the original garden site fell through.
Hudson admits he “gave up,” but other garden supporters didn’t.
“Open workable land is a scarcity in this area of Cleveland, but it was crucial to locate the garden where it could provide fresh food to those who needed it most,” according to Hudson.
Then it came. Elder Davis Morelock asked if a parcel of land owned by his family might serve the purpose. This land was the home where his father, Jeff Morelock was raised and it was kept undeveloped all this time.
The Morelock property was not only near First Cumberland; it was in the heart of the downtown area and could support a large garden ministry. Jeff Morelock was more than willing to donate the use of this site for ministry.
The church took Morelock’s offer and things began to happen very fast.
Church members, a local Boy Scout troop and other volunteers showed up with shovels, drills, Bobcats and timbers.
“Two long rows of raised-bed gardens were up and producing before we knew it; then we had running water; then a big sign. Sometimes you know God is paving the way ahead,” Elder Rodney Curvin observed.
Ashlan Morelock, a member of the garden committee at the church, said “Growing food and friendships is what we gardeners, friends, and church family members set out to do, and within months, with the Lord’s blessing, we’re reaping what we’ve sown.”
First Cumberland will continue to seek new raised bed sponsors and partners to expand the ministry. Additionally, for a small starter fee anyone can establish their own growing bed and help fill a big need in the community.
First Cumberland will also be holding vacation Bible school at the community garden site June 4-8.
Newell has written and developed an entire VBS program that is “garden friendly.”
For information on participating in the community garden or joining First Cumberland’s Vacation Bible School, contact the church at 476-6751.