Free food grows giving attitude in Zebulon
    July 29 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    Standing on the side of North Carolina Hwy. 39 in the Pilot community, Elaine Lewis holds up two signs and talks to the coming cars with the same words: “Free Vegetables.”

    Lewis and her cohort Teresa Alford spent a recent Saturday manning a roadside produce stand — for the ministry, not for the money. Lewis and Alford talked about how much this project through Pilot Baptist Church in Zebulon means to them.

    “It’s been really nice,” said Alford. “Most of the time it all gets gone.”

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    From left, Elaine Lewis and Teresa Alford man the farm stand for Pilot Baptist Church in Zebulon, which distributes free produce to passersby. See video.

    While Lewis’ garden came early this year, she’s still  sharing its bounty with others. This week she brought new potatoes to share with church members and at the roadside stand.

    The church partnered with a local non-profit called Grow & Share, which fights hunger by promoting gardening and community building.

    The stand is near the church with signs dotting the road in both directions to notify people of its presence. It started the first week in July and will continue until the crops are harvested. While it’s open a couple of hours Saturday morning, ministry happens throughout the week.

    “Sometimes when people bring it to your door, it’s easier to accept,” Alford said.  

    Picking up
    On Fridays, Alford gets a phone call from a farmer and fellow church member about what’s available on his land. She and her husband, Jan, who had the idea to start the ministry, go and pick what’s available.

    “When it’s ready, it’s ready,” she said. “It is a job. There’s no doubt about it. “We’ve been talking about doing something. Everybody has their gifts. We can be up here and man the station.”

    And if there happens to be leftovers on Saturdays?

    Easy answer: make bags for shut-ins and other neighbors.

    Some of the people visiting the stand said they heard about it through the local newspapers.

    “It means that you have a bigger meal,” one lady said. “It means a lot.”

    Another said it helped stretch the budget for her family. Plus it provides fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables.

    “The Lord wouldn’t leave me alone until I did something about it,” Jan Alford said. That’s when one of the men at church told him about Grow & Share.

    “I think we’ve all received a blessing from it.” Kay Whatley, one of the founders of Grow & Share, said she and her husband started the non-profit in 2008 “when everything was going poorly for our nation. Some of our kids’ friends from school started taking part in backpack buddies. Things were crazy out there.”

    They hated to see people choosing to skip buying medicine or food in order to pay the mortgage.

    They started thinking there must be something they could do. While the dry weather has hurt production, the results are still a blessing. Volunteers at Pilot Baptist Church have helped advertise the non-profit and aid their neighbors through this ministry.

    “It seems like it’s easy and people are willing,” she said. Grow & Share gave away 14,000 plants this year. “Some planted an extra garden just for this,” she said.

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    7/29/2010 4:22:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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