June 24th, 2010

Tuesday, over 50 passionate, motivated, and dedicated members of the greater Mobile faith community joined us at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church for Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread, our third hunger and food security workshop.

Oak McCullough of the Bay Area Food Bank reported in on some of the food bank’s projects, includingmobile food pantries, and explained how food banks operate.

Doug Jolly of South Brookley United Methodist talked about Angel Food Ministries and brought us a box of food to show us how much food comes with one of their affordable food packages, which are available for any family or individual.

Two of our favorite folks from DHR, Mary Lois Monroe and Pat Huffman, talked about state food assistance, while our own Haley Heckman shared her experience with food stamps. We also met Donna Martin of the Mobile County DHR who told us how to get food assistance applications on the fast track.

Pastor Mark Renn of Providence Presbyterian’s Providence Farm Community Garden told us the “why” of church community gardens, explaining how his church had decided to garden as a way to become better stewards of creation.

Some wonderful ladies from Providence Presbyterian brought some of their canned zucchini relish, pickles, and jalapenos, which they sell to raise money for the church’s food ministry.

As a surprise, Pastor Renn brought us a truckload of giant zucchini and squash to share. He explained that irregular or extra large produce often ends up in a warehouse, where it sits there for the taking – or until it rots. These women from Dauphin Way’s food pantry and meals on wheels were thrilled to use some leftover zucchinis for their food ministry.

Myra Evans told us the “how” of organizing or working on a garden, even if you lack the green thumb; as she explained, gardening is more about enthusiasm and willingness to begin than a huge amount of resources or experience. She was kind enough to welcome us to town by showing us some of the gardens springing up all over Mobile, including one she started with Hands On South Alabama (below).

James Miles of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service told us about some of the training programs available from ACES and shared some tips for choosing a garden site, choosing crops, rotation, pollination, soil preparation, and watering.

We ended the day by breaking bread and having a group discussion about the challenges we face in Mobile and our plans going forward. You can read some of our reflections here.

Thanks to Dauphin Way United Methodist Church and associate pastor Jorgenson for being helpful, gracious hosts and allowing us to use their beautiful space. Thanks also to our amazing speakers and all the participants, who shared some valuable insights. Props to Publix for donating much of the food we enjoyed. It truly was an amazing day of learning and sharing, and I know amazing things will come of it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friends on the coast as they continue to deal with the economic and environmental effects of the oil spill. (Below: the oil slick on Mobile Bay.)

Posted by Robyn Hyden