Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bean by bean

The wet spring has brought a bounty of peas and beans at my house this year.
We're not sick of eating them yet. But when the overwhelming bounty of any garden crop arrives, we have solutions that can help the broader community.
Loaves and Fishes pantries take fresh fruit and vegetables, to add a little extra to the basic nonperishable groceries given away to the hungry in Charlotte. Generally, the organization seeks nonperishable items, but local produce won't be turned away.

St. Andrews Episcopal Church at 3601 Central Avenue near Merry Oaks houses the busiest pantry in the city. The pantry distributes food and takes donations on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Neighbor Austin Seagrave volunteers on Wednesdays at the pantry, and others have helped hand out food on occasion.

St. Andrews has also plowed up a sunny side yard at the church for gardens, offering plots to recent Nepalese refugees from Bhutan and others in the community.

In addition, St. John's Baptist Church at 300 Hawthorne Lane in Elizabeth plans a farmer's market on Sunday, July 12, 19, outside the church after the 10:30 a.m. service. (Previously published as July 12. My error. Apologies.) Church members plan to bring extras from their gardens for sale, with proceeds going to the church's hunger committee for distribution to hunger-fighting organizations. If you want to contribute, call the church office at 704-333-5428.

Every bean counts. Unemployment in North Carolina has hit 11.1 percent and South Carolina has risen to 12.1 percent, and distrust of some traditional nonprofits has grown because of stories about exorbitant salaries for administrators. At my house, we don't have lots of spare money this year, but if our garden overfloweth, we have at least two choices of ways to help the hungry, in addition to sharing with neighbors.

Consider the extra veggies as backyard micropayments.

Others are stepping in locally and citywide.

Merry Oaks neighbor Nancy Pierce offered her cucumber and zucchini bounty to the neighborhood Google message group, and 14 people replied. She sent more veggies to the Merry Oaks neighborhood summer meeting for giveaway this past week. While recipients might not have been in the same dire circumstances as recipients at Loaves and Fishes, every little bit helps.

And local media have formed Mission Possible, a joint reporting project to alert the community to the most critical needs. Members include The Charlotte Observer,,,, WCNC NewsChannel 36, public radio station WFAE, Spanish language newspaper La Noticia and .

In addition, a community-wide panel discussion is planned for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30, at Little Rock AME Zion Church at 401 North McDowell Street on how best to meet basic human needs in Mecklenburg County. This event is co-sponsored by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, the Community Building Initiative, and Mecklenburg Ministries. Panel members include:

  • Ruben Campillo, Latin American Coalition
  • Harvey Gantt, Ganttt-Huberman Architects
  • Carol Hardison, Crisis Assistance Ministry
  • John McGillicuddy, Mecklenburg County
  • Rick Thames, The Charlotte Observer

Moderators are Bob Morgan of The Charlotte Chamber and Willie Ratchford of the Community Relations Committee. Those interested in attending need to RSVP to .

Bean by bean, we can make a difference.

Top photo: Beans in my backyard garden.
Bottom photo: The side lawn of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, plowed, plotted and ready for planting on June 1.

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