Community garden created by Abilene church offers free food, fellowship

Free produce? You bet. All you have to do is pick it yourself.

The Open Door was created by members of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Its purpose? To form relationships with the neighborhood in the area of S. 19th and Amarillo.

Garden volunteer Ryan Hamilton wasn't always a green thumb...until he saw what was going on just down the street from his home.

"We started from scratch and you know, just got our hands dirty and dug in and planted the plants and got to watch it transform into this and it's really beautified the block, too," Hamilton said.

The Open Door garden means so much to Hamilton, in fact, that he and wife, Rachel, got married there just last weekend.

"It's really neat to see the plants grow, as well as my marriage and relationship with her," Hamilton said. "It's kind of symbolic in that way."

The associate pastor of Aldersgate, Amy Wilson Feltz, said the community has responded positively.

"The people come from the neighborhood and pick as they need and that's exactly what we were hoping would happen," she said.

"It's really nice to come by and see flowers and vegetables growing and neighbors coming out and talking to each other and it created a community we didn't have before," Hamilton said.

The produce is free. Really.

"It's free," said Feltz. "You just come and take what you need and just spend some time here. That's what God's grace is. And so this is a metaphor. God's grace is free, this garden and everything in it is free, as well," she said.

Right now, there's a surplus of okra, as well as tomatoes and herbs.

Volunteers just planted some fall plants, which will be available in a few months for picking.

The garden operates with the help of volunteers.

Garden work days are every second Saturday of the month.

The next one is scheduled for Oct. 12th from 9 a.m. until noon.

There will be a free lunch at the October work day, as well as an okra-cooking contest.

The Open Door garden is located at the corner of S. 19th and Amarillo streets.

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