The Lord’s Acre is a not for profit 501(c)3 garden in western North Carolina. All the organic produce grown is given away to our local food pantries, Welcome Table, and individuals in need. Last year we grew 8 tons of produce on 1/2 acre using a combination of raised beds, field cropping, wide rows and by demonstrating various methods that can be used by backyard gardeners. We are currently in three-season production of a wide variety of mixed vegetables with cover cropping used as a crop rotation as well as being standard winter practice. This year, 2012, will be our fourth growing season and the progress we’ve made in such a short time is a testament to the community’s involvement. Along with volunteering in the garden, the community has provided such things as a tractor trailer load of compost, an irrigation pump, a site plan by civil engineers, a used barn, construction of a shed, financial support and so much more. During the growing season, there are regular volunteer work times as well as group volunteer times. We also house and train up to three interns per growing season.  

The garden manager is keen to eventually move away from actually cultivating or turning the soil by using deep mulch, hugelculture, the cutting and laying down of cover crops, etc. We are experimenting with these each year. This will take some time but she is convinced it is the solution to many issues that challenge growers, both organic and non organic while also making the growing of food more affordable and accessible.

Last year the property owner wished to sell the land we were on and we were unable to find similar, affordable property anywhere nearby. That is when we agreed to take out a 3-year mortgage on the property. Many have been generous in helping us toward the goal of land security but we still have a way to go. As we slowly expand onto the acreage we’re purchasing, we intend to add small livestock, fruit and nut trees and small fruits, the goal being to provide a variety of food and educational experiences. We see this property as public space where neighbors can enjoy learning about ways to take more control of their own food production while getting to know each other and building community ties.

We see the garden as a hub for the community that just happens to revolve around agriculture and food. It’s our goal to use the strengths we have in this community to create and share models that can work for other small towns similar to ours. The goals are to build real community, using the garden as a vehicle. We provide garden and food skills training to anyone and everyone, raise awareness of both local and global food-related issues and inspire by as much beauty as we can possibly create. The organization is run by a board of thirteen committed folks with one paid garden manager position — the garden manager also being the executive director and visionary. The goals of the garden go way beyond food issues, however. We realize there are many types of hunger and that the model of those that ‘have’ giving to those that ‘do not’ is a false model. Yes, hunger for food exists but hunger for knowledge, community, and friendship also exist and are no respecter of socio-economic status. Perhaps our truest goal is to find and connect every person’s abundance with the hunger that exists in others and we believe a garden, with all its beauty and common ground, is one of the best places to do that.

To this end The Lord’s Acre is now part of a unique triad consisting of our local food pantries, the garden and our Welcome Table. Welcome Tables are a concept where all people in a community are welcome to come once a week for a fresh, home cooked meal on a “pay as you can, if you can” basis. This brings together people from all ages and walks of life to get to know one another over a meal. This garden, Welcome Table, and pantry triad creates a unique relationship whereby the very best produce from the garden is donated to the pantries while ‘seconds’ can be used to prepare wholesome food at the The Welcome Table. In addition, the Welcome Table allows people the opportunity to taste vegetables they would not otherwise try, thus expanding people’s taste for a variety of fresh foods.

This year we are also conducting a community food survey to better understand where our community is when it comes to liking, using, understanding, growing, purchasing and eating fresh foods. This knowledge not only shows us how to grow our organization, it shows the entire community how we can bring together our strengths to put healthy food on everyone’s table. It tells us what will inspire our community to grow as much of its food as possible and to get to know our farmers and their needs in the process.

 

The Lord’s Acre
PO Box 271
Fairview, NC 28730
www.thelordsacre.org