Families experiencing homelessness often do without little amenities that many of us might take for granted — like a garden in the backyard. Thanks to an array of supporters and volunteers, the families who live at Family Renew Community’s three residential campuses now can have the pleasure of planting and watching things grow, then reaping the harvest of healthy produce. Community gardening projects — each with its own personality — have been launched at the Holly Hill and Daytona Beach residential campuses and will be underway soon in DeLand.
Missing Peace, a community of young families and others who gather each Sunday morning to express and explore faith in various places and various ways, visited the Holly Hill campus recently to get a vegetable garden off the ground, literally. Raised beds, each with a trellis reaching skyward on one side, were formed from lumber by the grownups. When it came time for the good, dirty fun part, they invited all the kids, visitors and residents alike, to join in. The children got in up to their elbows to blend the soil, peat moss and compost into a rich, uniform medium in which to place rows of basil and tomato plants, and seeds for cucumbers, peas, romaine and leaf lettuce, green beans and zucchini squash. Missing Peace donated not only the labor and the love, but also the materials. Incidentals, such as the plumbing work to allow the garden to be irrigated, were funded by a local foundation that seeks to remain anonymous.
The new four-tower system will allow 80 plants to be grown in a roughly 2-foot-by-12-foot space. The system was purchased months ago, but was nothing more than a box of pots, pipes and other parts until two Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University engineering students came to the rescue on a recent Saturday, the school’s Campus-wide Day of Service. David and Michael put the pieces together in a perfectionist manner worthy of their chosen perfection; Family Renew Community may well have the only vertical garden in town built by aeronautical and mechanical engineers!
At Family Renew Community’s DeLand Residential Campus, where outdoor space is even tighter than at Daytona Beach, residents have the good fortune to the Spring Hill Community Garden right down the street. Through the generosity of the same anonymous foundation, Family Renew Community plans to lease a plot in the garden, where residents will be able to grow the fresh, healthy produce of their choice and get guidance from master gardeners.
To learn more about how you can help with Family Renew Community’s community gardening projects — especially if you have gardening expertise to lend — please email Development Director Denise O’Toole Kelly.