Volunteers worked tirelessly last Saturday to build the raised beds that would hold FOCUS Gateway City’s community garden. Three beds were built and planted and one more will soon be complete as well.

“We put the community garden in a vacant lot adjacent to the center,” Eric Shanburn, Director of FOCUS Gateway City, said. “St. Michael’s parishioners and several FOCUS Gateway City volunteers all pitched in and set up the garden.”

Shanburn said he hopes this small initial garden will only be the first step in transforming much of the green space around St. Michael Orthodox Church, which houses FOCUS Gateway City, into a productive garden for the community to enjoy and use. Many planters and pots will also be used to grow the flowers, vegetables and herbs for the community garden.

“We want to be able to use this garden in several ways,” Shanburn said. “First, we want to be able to use the produce from the garden in our free Sunday community meals. We want the cherry tomatoes on our guests salads to come from our own garden.”

Produce will also be handed out during the center’s food pantry hours, so that guests can enjoy fresh vegetables right from the center’s garden. Shanburn said he hopes that as the garden expands, people in the neighborhood will be able to work their own small plot in the garden.

“As the garden grows, I hope to have space to encourage some of our homeless guests to grow their own food,” Shanburn said.

Shanburn said they also hope to add a flower garden for community members to come and sit and reflect on the beauty of God’s creation.

“I want our community garden to be a place where people can grow food and also find rest,” Shanburn said. “I want it to be a place where people can come and connect with God surrounded by peace and nature and beauty.”

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