Grace Seeds Ministry cultivates community while weeding out hunger Food deserts in Chicago and other communities are being transformed into oases of hope and nutrition by the hard-working hands and tender heart of McCormick alumna the Rev. Linda Wygant.
While many communities struggle to get access to fresh produce and other nutritional food, the Rev. Linda Wygant is offering a simple and engaging solution. The 2006 McCormick D.Min. graduate began Share the Harvest, an outreach program of Grace Seeds Ministry, to grow vegetables that are freely given to food pantries in Chicago-area communities.
“Our aim is to conveniently provide our brothers and sisters who are hungry with healthy, fresh vegetables that they would otherwise be unable to afford,” says Rev. Wygant who has more than 30 ‘growing partners’ that share her vision. “In the process, we’re growing in our faith and learning more about hunger, poverty, and God’s call to respond with direct action for food justice in our neighborhoods.”
More than 600, 000 people, many of them children, live in Chicago food deserts. These mostly low-income areas have scarce supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables available within their neighborhoods. The experience of a food desert is also present in suburban communities where the elderly and the disabled often find it challenging to get to grocery stores, and individuals who have lost their jobs can’t afford to purchase the food their families need. Through Share the Harvest and its growing partners, community plots, backyard gardens and apartment balconies have been transformed into home-grown resources for nutritional food. Last year, Share the Harvest provided more than 8,000 pounds of healthy vegetables and fruit to 16 food pantries. Throughout the year, it offers gardening classes, liturgy for use in worship, horticultural support, food preparation films and other programs that help to build a greater sense of community among its partners. Share the Harvest teaches its partners to use sustainable growing methods and advocates for the care and just treatment of the land and all creatures that inhabit it.
“At Grace Seeds, community outreach begins in a garden,” says Rev. Wygant. “As we work with and for our neighbors, we’re developing strong roots that make for vibrant, healthy, stable and beautiful neighborhoods. We want everyone to experience God’s abundance and know that they are welcome at the table.”
No gardening experience is required to become a Share the Harvest growing partner. For information, email Rev. Wygant at firstname.lastname@example.org.