By MICHAEL NUNES
SPOTSWOOD — While most residents contribute canned food to food pantries, the Trinity United Methodist Church in Spotswood began planting a garden in which fresh produce would be donated to a local food pantry.
“No one could really bring fresh produce, so we thought if we could have a garden here and we could get enough people to volunteer to pick it and take it over there, [the food pantry] would be very happy,” said Sharon Biles, who oversees Naomi’s Way Community Garden with fellow Spotswood resident Kim Walker.
Naomi’s Way Community Garden takes its name from the biblical character Naomi, who was rescued from a life of destitution by a local farmer who allowed her to grow her own crops on the edge of his garden, according to the church’s website.
Biles was joined by several volunteers, including members of the church’s youth group, as they planted tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans in front of the church on Manalapan Road on May 14.
According to Pastor Hillary Crute, the garden began about four years ago as the brainchild of Spotswood resident Lauren Duh.
“Lauren produced so much from that small plot that the church voted to give her the side of the church with four additional beds. As a result of our success, every church in Spotswood now has a garden to supply produce to Alice’s CUP (Churches United for People),” Crute wrote in an email.
Last year, the church garden produced thousands of tomatoes along with cucumbers, peppers and herbs.
The vegetables are donated to the CUP food pantry on Main Street in Spotswood. According to Crute, the food pantry helps an estimated 400 families a month. With the food pantry providing many nonperishable goods, these vegetables are important to the diets of families in need.
“The garden’s produce supplies an important part of a nutritional diet that is often left off shopping lists of needier families,” she said.
The season-long process of watering and picking lasts through September.
The church is seeking volunteers to help tend to the garden and take the produce to the pantry throughout the year. Contact Crute at 732-251-0815.
Contact Michael Nunes at firstname.lastname@example.org.