Local food bank works to build community garden for fresh vegetables

VANDALIA — With God’s Grace, a local mobile food pantry, is planning a unique new project aimed at bringing fresher vegetables to its clients in the ongoing fight to stop food insecurity across the Miami Valley.

The non-profit is pulling in volunteers from around community, and spent Tuesday building eight raised food beds on land contributed by Vandalia Church of the Nazarene.

“What we really are wanting is the food that we are getting to stay fresh for our clients to be able to enjoy,” said Nicole Adkins, With God’s Grace executive director.

Mark Batton, a pastor at Vandalia Church of the Nazarene, said he is excited to see the land full of crops.

“I do not know how fast or what it will look like, it may start with two or three acres, but there are 12 or 13 here ready to use,” Batton said.

Adkins said this project has taken on a new urgency in the wake of food insecurity that was made worse by the pandemic.

“The food that we are getting right now is going off the shelves as fast as we get it,” Adkins said.

Planting has already begun on beds that will soon produce tomatoes, squash, hot peppers and broccoli.

Adkins was joined by two Goodwill teams and a ViaQuest youth experience work crew, but she has future plans for many more farm hands ahead.

“Next year we want to grow under the land and not just in the raised beds and we also want to open up a community garden so the community can plant their own garden and take their own food home,” Adkins said.

The group believes that the eight beds are only the start of something special and will continue asking for more community volunteers as they prepare to expand further next week when they start work on the greenhouse