Since 1993, the Donelson Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee has donated over 10,000 pounds of fresh produce from their community garden, known as the “Garden of Hope,” to feed the hungry in their community. Nashville’s Table has been the grateful recipient of this abundant harvest. Nashville’s Table’s mission is to reduce hunger in the community by rescuing excess prepared and perishable food from those with abundance, and providing it, at no charge, to those in need. Currently, more than 120 Nashville-area no-profit agencies serving people in need are receiving food from Nashville’s Table.
In the summer of 1993, the “Field of Hope” was planted in an unused piece of land adjacent to the home of Sid Winek, Jr., the teenager who was responsible for the original idea for this community garden. Ever concerned about the plight of Nashville’s needy, Winek took his idea to the members of his church. He was concerned that Nashville’s Table was receiving a high percentage of processed food at the time, and he wanted to help improve the nutritional value of the food they offered by providing more fresh vegetables. He believed that with the use of his family’s land and the help of his fellow church members, he could do something to help. The members of Donelson Presbyterian Church immediately embraced his idea. In the beginning, over 40 church members stepped forward to volunteer their time to establish and tend the new garden.
The Winek property had to be sold in 1996, but church members were not willing to let the “Field of Hope” project come to an end. The Session of Donelson Presbyterian Church voted to move the garden to the church’s own property on Lebanon Road. The “Field of Hope” was renamed the “Garden of Hope,” and for the last six years, has occupied a place of honor adjacent to their sanctuary. Today, the church has over 280 members and volunteers of all ages help tend the garden. The Service Committee of the church donates money each year to purchase seeds and supplies. Members of the church take turns plowing, planting, weeding, watering and harvesting. The garden had become a place for church members to connect with each other and become a closer community of faith. The fact that the garden benefits those most in need makes their community garden even more special to the congregation.
Members of Donelson Presbyterian Church are committed not only to continuing their “Garden of Hope,” but also to encouraging other congregations to begin their own community gardens to feed the hungry. These volunteers are a shining example of how a group of everyday individuals can come together to make a significant difference in the lives of so many people.