St. John’s Food Pantry got a boost this month when they received fresh vegetables from a new garden project.
St. John’s Church member Karen LeComte said she kept reading about community gardens in magazines and hearing about them in news reports. With the beautiful plot of land that surrounds St. John’s church in Cedarhurst subdivision, she thought surely they could do the same. “God kept speaking to me about it and I finally opened the idea up to Father Paul.”
“I’m not much of a gardener myself,” said Karen, “but I knew I would get support.”
A handful of forward thinking parishioners stepped up to decide on the location of the 30 x 40 foot plot, fencing was purchased and materials recycled, like an old wooden door for the gate and old metal stakes to hold up new fencing .
“We didn’t even have to buy seeds,” said LeComte. “Many times when I came to church I would find plants to add to the garden.”
Neighbor Dick Sawall brought his tractor with cultivator over to do the hard work of turning up the pastureland. “Several men came in and used their rototillers to break everything up afterward, to get a good working layer of soil for us,” said LeComte. “It didn’t hurt that the plot was located in a former horse pasture. Our soil is very rich,” she said with a knowing smile.
This season’s plantings included beans, yellow onions, pie pumpkins, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and summer squash. Marie Kubinski was in charge of keeping the plants watered, and commented that ‘God took over and my job was easy this summer.’
Kubinski also volunteers on Mondays at St. John’s Food Pantry, where the vegetables from God’s Garden end up. She speaks highly of retirees Jerry and Lil LeBachen, who have volunteered countless hours running the pantry for the past eight years. When they heard about “God’s Garden” they were thankful.
“St. John’s Church focuses on New London with their mission outreach. The Thrift Store on Water Street is set up to keep the Food Pantry going, and everyone who needs help can get it,” explained Jerry. “It’s wonderful to see the full circle and how the community benefits.”
LeBachen says the pantry receives generous donations from Piggly Wiggly and Festival Foods each week too. “Without those stores and their generosity, we would not have things like bread, deli salads, potatoes, bakery and miscellaneous items. LeBachen buys most of the food from the proceeds of the thrift store, and drives to Omro monthly to a national outlet for food distribution, Feeding America. This is where he purchases canned goods, cereals and other boxed items, and bulk meat.
“When I told many of the families that the church members were growing vegetables for the food pantry, it was well received,” said LeBachen. “Many thought it was really great that total strangers were doing something nice for their families.”
Besides feeding anywhere from 30-40 families a week, St. John’s Food Pantry benefits from a Coats for Kids drive with Fox Communities Credit Unions in Clintonville, New London and Shawano. On Thursday and Saturday mornings they host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and work closely with the Salvation Army. Each year Curves of New London has a membership drive that gives deep discounts to members donating canned goods to the pantry.
“We’ve got great community and church support of our Food Pantry,” said LaBachen. “God’s Garden is one more sign that our mission work is growing, too.”