Parishioners at St. Maximilian Kolbe in Scarborough have started a new community garden designed to feed the hungry.

Those who signed up for plots all agreed to send a portion of the produce from the garden, nicknamed the “Garden of Eaten,” to the South Portland Food Cupboard, which assists an average of 75 families a week, according to a press release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

In addition, one large plot in the new garden is dedicated solely to the food pantry.

“I just think this is neat because it’s going to bring parishioners together (and) it’s also supporting the food cupboard, which I think is wonderful,” said Msgr. Michael Henchal, pastor at St. Max.

Located adjacent to the rectory, the new community garden has been planted with a wide variety of vegetables and other produce, from green beans to carrots and onions. It includes eight 10-by-12-foot, full-size raised beds, as well as 50, 2- b-4-foot kiddie plots.

“It’s more fun than anything, and we’ve met some really, really nice people,” Fran Audet, one of the gardeners, said in the diocese press release.

The Garden of Eaten is part of a social justice initiative of the three local Catholic churches, including Holy Cross in South Portland and St. Bartholomew in Cape Elizabeth.

The garden got off the ground with the help of a $4,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, according to the press release.

“There are so many food insecure families in the Portland area, and fresh produce is sometimes difficult for food cupboards and food pantries to stock because of the fact that it is perishable, so we wanted to be able to provide a way for them to have some sort of source of fresh produce for (their clients),” said gardener Kathy Jones, who is sometimes helped by her 6-year-old grandson Jacob.

“Fresh produce is an important part of the food cupboard,” said Jim Welch, a parishioner who volunteers at the food pantry in South Portland. “Getting fresh vegetables into the hands of these people can only make them feel better.

Much of the grant funding went toward putting in water spigots that are connected to the rectory through underground pipes. In addition, members of the Knights of Columbus at St. Max laid out the perimeter and built the individual raised beds.

Phil Roberts of Broadway Gardens in South Portland also donated 25 yards of garden soil and T.W. Enterprises Inc. in Westbrook donated wood chips.

Others have also contributed to the garden, including Garbage to Garbage in Portland, which has offered a discount on compost, and Hammond Lumber, which provided a discount on the lumber used to build the garden. Local carpenter John McDonough donated his time to build a shed, and Joe Capobianco, a master gardener, also lent his expertise to the effort.

“It’s a real community event,” said Paul Chamberlain, chairman of the garden committee. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

Even Henchal has offered his green thumb to grow broccoli and cauliflower.

“I’m really proud of this,” he added.

Working in the new community garden at St. Maximilian Kolbe in Scarborough are Kathy Jones and her grandson, Jacob, age 6.

Kathy Jones planting vegetable seedlings in the new community garden at St. Max.

Produce grown at the new community garden at St. Max will go to the clients of the South Portland Food Cupboard.


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