Sue Niblock, Smith Falls FMC | April 27 2022
I am a member of the Benevolence Committee at my church and have seen increased need. Need that makes us pray for what is next, as we see desperation. I am also a volunteer with a school breakfast program. We and every school here also have a list of families that get help with lunch, and at the end of the week, take home the perishables. During lock downs and vacations, a few families receive gift cards for groceries. In my community, 30% of the population lives below the poverty level and those stats are a couple years old.
My friends and I also pray about how we can reach into a hurting community. In Feb, when I was buying my own first round of seeds to start inside, I realized that if you need help to buy milk, bread and soap right now then you can’t buy seeds so that in a few months, you might have some fresh vegetables.
I contacted my church. I contacted the horticultural society, the town, the health clinic, other churches that I knew gave out gift cards and provided meals, and the food bank. A garden centre was willing to supply seeds and starter plants at their cost. A master gardener was willing to teach a free beginner gardener workshop. My husband, Grant, and I prayed about it and decided this project was God’s will. We kept asking God to send those that needed it and would benefit. Grant and I decided that we would pay the costs for rent, seeds, printing etc.
Then the Salvation Army said free rent and would pay for the seeds. Then the insurance company for the garden centre said we could work it out because while we didn’t quite meet the requirements for their program to improve food stability in communities, we had the same end goals and they could make it work. They will pay 100% costs of seeds and plants for edibles and a large bag of garden soil for each registered person. They said they would cover 35 people. Everyone that stuck their hands up to pay got covered by someone else. Yeah, God!
I have very little technological skill. A young woman created an online Eventbrite registration and invitations that looked like bookmarks. 4 different places printed out about 1000 invitations. The invitations were put in every bag of groceries given out by the food bank, every free lunch from a church or The Legion, every church that gives out gift cards and every school in this town over about a 3-week period. Then I waited. But I didn’t want to be like King David, so I didn’t count registrations until I needed to know for seating, etc.
The beautiful young woman that manages the foodbank took aside those that she knew were illiterate and explained and helped them register. The invitations were for a free beginner gardener workshop, free seeds and starter plants for edibles and garden soil and a list of free related services that already exist:
- free community garden spaces
- the towns garden compost site for free soil and compost and
- a nutritionist that would even teach canning and preserving and
- emails, websites and phone numbers for free garden helplines
Last Saturday was the gardening workshop. We had 34 registered.
I asked and God gave me two Christian gardening friends to help at the workshop. In 4 more weeks, these 2 friends and I will be at the garden centre to help out on the 2 days that we recommended those registered to come get their free plants and seeds.
Everyone that put this together feels that this was God’s will. We feel that God answered prayer and enabled it. We opened with prayer. God does not want people hungry in a land of plenty. We were teaching them a skill to be able to help themselves. Like teaching a man to fish. Where it goes from here, I’m not sure. The organization that was going to take over has not, but I have learned that a delay or bump in the road is an opportunity for God to do it better than I could have imagined.
God is good all the time. Yeah. All the time, God is good!