There’s a new program to help Ashe County families struggling with food insecurity.
“Garden Buddies: Growing in Christ’s Likeness” is a new collaborative effort aimed at tackling the issue of food insecurity and creating skilled gardeners in Ashe County. It’s a partnership between West Jefferson First Baptist Church, the Ashe Sharing Center and the following cooperating agencies: Ashe County Health Department, ACHS Agriculture Department and the N.C. Cooperative Extension.
The project was the idea of West Jefferson Baptist Church parishioners Kelly Vannoy and Jane and Rick Gardner.
“Our goal is to help families feed themselves through supplying gardening needs like equipment and supplies,” (Jane) Gardner said. Supplies include such things as simple gardening tools, canners and freezers.
There are currently five to seven families participating in Garden Buddies.
Families learn to garden and produce their own food with help from volunteer mentors.
“We want them to learn to produce, prepare and process their own fresh produce,” Gardner said.
Vannoy said one of the program’s goals is to encourage families to share their extra produce with the community through donating such items to the Sharing Center.
Gardner said her hope is by next year, those currently participating in the program will be “independent growers,” that way other families can participate in the program.
Gardner and Vannoy said there’s already been a lot of interest generated by the program. Both women hope it will become a model for other churches and groups to address the problem of food insecurity in and around Ashe County.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, N.C ranks fifth among states with food insecurity.
For more information on “Garden Buddies: Growing in Christ’s Likeness,” call Vannoy at (336) 846-7019.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.