Vegetables are beginning to grow in a garden planted on the Valleybrook Presbyterian Church grounds to benefit the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.
"We tilled the land and planted the garden in one day," said church pastor Adel Thalos. "We wanted to help the food bank provide healthy food."
Valleybrook will host a Harvest Festival Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. with a barbecue cookout, s'mores cooked over an open fire and water slides for children. The event is free. Thalos said he is looking for a name for the garden and participants are welcome to make garden name suggestions.
"We will pick vegetables in the garden, bless it and send it off at the Harvest Festival," said Thalos. "We have land and we want to serve the community with it."
Organic food grown in the garden includes squash, soy beans, okra, tomatoes, eggplant, various herbs and melons.
Valleybrook PC members Ryan Winchester and Whittney Poole work weekly in the garden. Winchester and Poole are students at UTC majoring in English and Spanish respectively. The pair will use their education and gardening abilities in the mission field.
"We try to plant things that have a high yield to get the most food out of it," said Winchester. "We could go out and buy the food, but we have all this land and there's something we can use it for."
He said the idea is to help the poor be able to provide food for their family. Seven Valleybrook Presbyterian members form the church's garden committee.
"We plan to expand the garden every spring by adding a new plot," said Winchester. "We hope for more community involvement."
Winchester said he lives five minutes from the church, so he and Poole stop by to water and weed the garden weekly.
"It's in God's hands," said Thalos. "As we expand the garden, we will need more donations of tillers, seeds, mulch and fencing."