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Giving Garden grows goodwill

A bountiful harvest is underway at the Giving Garden, a community garden recently developed by members of Heritage Baptist Church in Farmville.

The Giving Garden, according to church member and project spearhead Laura French, was developed after the Baptist General Assembly of Virginia (BGAV) announced it would be offering grant money to churches across the commonwealth in order to aid in coronavirus relief for families.

After applying, Heritage Baptist received $1,000 from BGAV and matched the funds with $2,000 out of the church’s own community missions budget. The funds were intended to help provide food for families impacted by the pandemic.

French said the church donated some funds to the FACES Food Pantry in Farmville, but church members wanted to use a portion of the money to give a community garden a try.

In April, with the help of many volunteers, soil was tilled, fencing was installed and rows and rows of a variety of vegetables were planted, including green peppers, corn, green beans, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini and cucumbers.

Although the veggies are just starting to yield, French said food distributions have already begun. The church, located at 700 Milnwood Road, had its first distribution of produce Tuesday night.

French said food distributions will continue for at least several weeks each Tuesday night, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Social distancing is required, and those who come to pick out produce should only send only one person from the family and wear a mask. Masks sewn by the church’s sewing group will be available.

However, there are no prerequisites for receiving the produce.

“There are no standards, no stipulations, anything like that,” she said. “If people come and say they have a need, then they will get some vegetables.”

But sun-ripened vegetables aren’t all the church will be distributing on Tuesday nights. Heritage Baptist also has an expansive clothes closet, the Hope Clothes Closet, run by Ann Simpson. Simpson and other volunteers have worked to amass a humongous collection of gently used clothing for men, women and children.

Simpson said the closet initially started to provide clothes to women through Madeline’s House, but was expanded through generous donations to include clothing for men and children. The closet has partnered with many organizations, including Meals on Wheels, Social Services and Crossroads, helping more than 190 families in the last two years of operation.

While the veggies will be distributed outside, Tuesday night clothing giveaways will occur indoors.

To learn more about the Giving Garden, contact Laura French at (434) 392-3833. To hear more about the Hope Clothes Closet, call Heritage Baptist Church’s office at (434) 392-6119.

PHOTOS BY ALEXA MASSEY