Garden offers farm-to-table produce for BFL

Volunteers worked over Memorial Day weekend to prepare a “common good garden” to grow produce for Bread for Life. (Courtesy of Bread for Life)



Just outside of Bread for Life’s new facility on Vermont Avenue, lies a brand new garden. It sits on a small piece of land that’s actually part of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church property. The “common good garden” was created in partnership between the church and BFL,, so that fresh produce can be harvested and used in the BFL kitchen.

St. Paul’s pastor Suzannah Rohman said the church used to own two plots of land on Vermont Avenue, one of which became the new BFL facility that opened in January.

“In 2009, Rite Aid offered the parish $500,000 for the two plots because they wanted to build a new store on the corner of Vermont Ave and Main Street,” Rohman said. “The members of St. Paul’s voted this offer down because they wanted the land to be used to benefit the community—not for commercial purposes.”

Fulfilling their mission, the church sold BFL “a little more than half of the Vermont Avenue property,” Rohman said.

“St. Paul’s was then left with a small piece of land, which we wanted to put to use,” said Rohman. “We decided that the best use for this land would be to grow vegetables for Bread for Life.”

After months of planning, the first seedlings were officially planted over Memorial Day weekend by a handful of volunteers, BFL staff, and Lewis Educational Agriculture Farm (LEAF) manager Mark Ramsay.

“Through the generosity of many businesses, individuals and organizations in the community, the garden is now up and running,” Rohman said.

Tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, onions, broccoli, squash, zucchini, collard greens, cabbage, and basil were donated by LEAF and Agway Garden Center and planted into soil donated by Winterberry Gardens. A fence surrounding the plot was donated by Eagle Fence Company and TMG Irrigation Company donated water spigots.

Volunteers enjoy the “fruits” of their labor. (Photo courtesy of Bread for Life)

“Some of our produce will be harvested in a couple of weeks—the lettuce especially,” said master gardener Christie Kuriger. “We will plant more beans and lettuce mid summer, so we can have another crop.”

The master gardener role is a distinction that individuals can receive upon completion of a certification program. Kuriger and Paula Leibovitz are the two master gardeners tasked with overseeing the garden each week, performing duties such as weeding, watering, replanting, and harvesting. They will communicate with groups who have volunteered to tend the garden and coordinate their work each week.

“This being our first year, we are starting small (34 by 36 feet) and will enlarge our garden space next year,” Kuriger said.

Everything that was planted last weekend is edible and can be used by BFL chefs.

“We hope that, through our efforts, we will be able to provide fresh vegetables to those who might not otherwise have access to them, create a garden that is environmentally friendly, and educate those working on the garden about how to garden,” said Rohman.

BFL executive director Donna Ayer said that the crops were deliberately chosen with meal preparation in mind.

“They were going for things that we knew were very popular to eat and easy to prepare,” Ayer said. “The hope is that we’re going to be able to harvest it, put it through the kitchen, and then use it.”

Officials are still seeking volunteers to help maintain the garden. Interested groups will be assigned one week during the growing season, and they will be given instructions and support from a master gardener.

If you are part of a community group or organization that would like to volunteer for a week in the garden, contact Rev. Suzannah Rohman at


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