The Garden at St. Francis had its first farm stand of the season on Sunday, providing fresh produce, honey and eggs to shoppers and congregation members who wandered in. A community-oriented, volunteer-based garden, there was plenty of available produce to go around.
The garden focuses on sustainability — no pesticides are used, and it is fertilized with compost. Bees from its honeybee hive pollinate the plant life, and produce the garden’s honey, which is sold at the stands.
The garden is run by Kristin Talbot, who grew up in Wantagh. Since last farm season, Talbot has strived to make the garden a safe space for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs or physical ability. Weekly volunteer hours at the garden take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Leftover produce on a week-to-week basis is donated to local pantries, including the Bellmore-Merrick Community Cupboard. Seniors and veterans can also obtain produce through several programs. Veteran services agencies provide Fresh Connect Coupons, and senior centers offer Farmers Market Nutrition Program Coupons for produce.
Carl Bucking, a congregation member and regular volunteer, told the Herald in April that St. Francis’s commitment to the community is what attracted him to the church. “There’s a lot of folks that have trouble getting access to three meals a day,” he said. “One of the things the garden does is provide a lot of organic produce for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get it.”
Throughout the summer, the garden runs educational programs, such as Pollinator Week, which took place during the last full week of June. Talbot feels the more people know about gardening, the easier it will be for them to bring their skills and knowledge into their own backyard.
The Rev. Grace Flint, who started her role at the church during the first week of April, she said she was excited to come to a church where community outreach is already embedded in its values. “Based on my own interests,” she said, “I’m really glad we have the outreach of the garden.”
The St. Francis Garden’s farm stand is open every Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., either outside the church or inside the church hall. For more, or to learn how to volunteer, call (516) 679-1184.