Written by Jessie Palatucci
The United Church Outreach Ministry is planting seeds in their community. UCOM is an agency of the Grand West Association of the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ. They founded the "Growing Green Neighbors" program, with the goal of helping members of their community learn to grow their own foods.
For their first project the group started the Square Foot Gardening program. Local gardeners are given a 4x4 raised garden box along with soil and seeds. The boxes are sectioned into 16 one foot squares and program participants choose 16 crops, including up to four trellised plants, to grow in their gardens.
Those in the program attend a monthly meeting hosted at UCOM where they talk with a master gardener or farmer, ask questions, and receive helpful hints and advice. Program participants will also be visited by volunteer gardeners periodically throughout the summer to help address any specific concerns they may have.
As a condition of enrollment in the program, all gardeners are asked to teach the skill to a friend or neighbor who will then receive their own garden box the following summer.
Within five years UCOM hopes to have 300 Square Foot Garden boxes dotting the landscape of the community, helping their neighbors become more self-sufficient while making their slice of Greater Grand Rapids just a little bit greener.