Located behind the Bolivar Church in Missouri is a free community garden open to anyone who wants fresh produce.

In 2019, the Bolivar Church began discussions of starting a community garden. The church is surrounded by housing for low-income individuals and the elderly. Sue Storment, Bolivar church member and garden manager, wanted to assist these individuals by providing healthy food at no cost.

“The most expensive food in the store is what’s the healthiest. People bypass it a lot of times because they can’t afford it,” Storment said.

In 2020, the church planted its first garden and opened it to the community. The garden includes green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and peppers.

Posted around the garden are signs asking people not to garden from “sundown Friday to sundown Saturday for Sabbath rest.” Next to the garden is also a Signs of the Times news box that is often filled with free literature for anyone interested. Garden visitors have asked questions about the church and Adventist beliefs.

Storment said the garden has been a “door opener” for the church to the community. She encourages churches who are struggling to reach their community to start a garden.

“A community garden is a great resource for the church, because it brings the community to your church — it’s a great way to witness,” Storment concluded.