It has been a dream of the Friendly Church of God in Christ in Oceanside to have its own community garden. The church leaders realize that their parishioners and community neighbors live in a ‘food desert’ where access to fresh produce is limited. This inability to have fresh vegetables and fruit leads to the consumption of what is nearby, mainly fast food. As a result, many community members suffer diet related maladies such as obesity and diabetes.
For five years, church elders sought help to turn their ¼ acre empty lot into a community garden. Their vision was to grow enough food to support their parishioners, neighbors and seniors in the community. Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, ground was broken on the first phase of the Friendly Church Community Garden.
Seventy volunteers from Mira Costa College and California State University, San Marcos worked in honor of Cesar Chavez Community Serve Day and laid the groundwork for the Friendly Church Community Garden. Lead by Bianca Bonilla of the non-profit Botanical Community Development Initiatives and Katie Sorrell R.D. the UCSD Interfaith Wellness Director, the volunteers cleared the land of weeds, built a fire pit which will be a community gathering spot, assembled raised beds, built soil furrows, laid mulch and painted a 50 foot mural. Master Gardeners involvement was to consult on how to build a community garden, planning and most importantly a grant for garden supplies. The day closed with a ceremonial seed planting. All participants were given a seed packaged and asked to plant a few seeds to initiate the garden.
Many of the church elders and parishioners had tears in their eyes, overcome with joy of a dream come true. One parishioner stated that healthy eating has resulted in a loss of 40 pounds for her and 26 pounds for her diabetic granddaughter. She looked forward to learning to grow her own food and passing that knowledge to her children and grandchildren.
Master Gardeners will continue to support the Friendly Church Community Garden with gardening knowledge and workshops as the need arises. Thank you to all who have helped to make a dream reality.
For program funding information, please see the Faith-Based Wellness Program.