Church’s mission fulfilled

PARKERSBURG – The building is known for its architecture, but the community garden at First Lutheran on 19th Street exemplifies the mission of the church.

The church and volunteers have managed the garden on 19th Street for three years, including a second garden on Emerson Avenue, and provide the harvest of vegetables free to the community.

“People see our church as this big beautiful building, but it doesn’t really state what we’re doing,” said Pastor Ian Reid. “The food grown in the garden goes to help feed the community, free.”

With First Lutheran parishioner and avid gardener Bob Friend are volunteers Barbara Newman, Don Ery and Pat Harman. They tend to the garden, tilling, planting, weeding, hoeing and watering.

“It’s been going good,” Harman said. “We’re producing a lot of vegetables people can enjoy.”

Newman is a master gardener whose expertise is appreciated by the church.

“That’s how I got started here,” she said. “I came over to help plant and kept coming back.”

Ery is among the founders of the garden and was active until recent health issues curtailed his physical involvement, but not his enthusiasm.

“I can hold the water hose,” he jokingly said.

This is the third year for the garden.

Near the fenced plot is a bin where the vegetables are kept for residents, Friend said. The crops include tomatoes, corn, squash, beans, cabbage, cucumbers and bell peppers, he said.

The garden is a lot of work, particularly with the addition of the Emerson Avenue plot, but workers are available through the Parkersburg Correctional Center, Friend said.

“These guys have been wonderful,” Friend said.

Silver Queen and Ambrosia varieties of corn are grown at Emerson Avenue, he said.

“I sampled the Silver Queen the other night and it was awfully good,” Friend said.

Vegetables produced from the garden are making their way to the shanty towns under the bridge and along the river where they are being cooked and eaten by the homeless, Friend said.

“That’s the church’s mission,” Harman said. “It’s to feed the community and it doesn’t matter who you are.”