For the seventh year in a row, The Scioto County Garden Project will be distributing free garden seeds and tomato plants at various ministry locations around Scioto County during the month of May. “The plants and seeds are provided free of charge to anyone who willing to plant them.” said Trish Shaffer, Scioto County coordinator for the project. “The only requirement is that each family fills out a simple application.”
The Scioto County Garden Project is an extension of Jackson Area Ministry (JAM) and the United Methodist Church, and is led by Rev. Bob Davis, who has served at the ministry’s helm for 44 years. According to Davis, “The distribution of seeds and plants started in a Jackson, Ohio Sunday school class room in 1972. That discussion led to the initiation of a program to distribute vegetable seeds to persons and/or families, to encourage them to grow their own food. The first year there were 16 participating gardeners in Jackson County. Forty-four years later, we anticipate assisting over 3,600 gardeners in 19 counties of southeast Ohio. Last year, 243 Churches and individuals from 25 states sent seeds and/or financial donations to the JAM office for distribution in the Appalachian counties of Ohio,” Davis added. “The plants are grown by local growers and are often sold to JAM at cost. Scioto County’s tomato plants came from Meigs County farmer J. Scott Hill Produce. Scott has been a silent helper to gardeners in southern Ohio for many years.”
JAM also supports Community Gardens in Jackson, Athens and Highland Counties that harvest produce for area food pantries. In past years, JAM supported a Pantry Garden in Scioto County that was headed up by Shawnee State University. Due to a change in jobs, the person heading it up left and no one continued the project.
Trish Shaffer, of Nauvoo United Methodist Church in West Portsmouth, oversees the distribution of the seeds and plants in Scioto County. “I was familiar with JAM’s Garden Project, but was unaware of anyone distributing the garden seeds locally. In March 2009, I called the JAM office and talked with Bob Davis. He told me that they had no distribution in Scioto County because they had no one to head it up. My reply to him was, ‘I’ll head it up. What do I need to do?’ He gave me some direction and by the end of April I had 245 requests for seeds and tomato plants! That has grown to working with 10 different Christian ministries in the county, as well as the Portsmouth Community Gardens planted behind the flood wall and in West Portsmouth.”
While distribution of seeds and tomato plants for Scioto Co. has already taken place at a few locations including, Cornerstone United Methodist (May 13), Potters House Ministries at Sciotoville Nazarene (May 13 & 14), and Loaves & Fishes Meal at All Saints Episcopal Church (May 14), individuals can still get free seeds and tomato plants at seven other locations in May. “We have enough for 525 gardens in Scioto County this year, and would like to make the supplies available in the eastern part of Scioto county as well.” said Shaffer. “If there is a food pantry in that area with a regular distribution date, I would like to hear from them. I can be reached by calling Nauvoo United Methodist Church at (740) 858-2621.”
Individuals, congregations, and service groups are encouraged to help by sending a financial donation or packets of their favorite vegetable seeds next spring to share with families in our area. They can be delivered in person or mailed to: JAM GARDENING, 119 McKitterick Ave, P.O. Box 603, Jackson, Ohio 45640 More information can be found by calling (888)-237-3141 or (740)-286-1320, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting their web page: http://jamumc.org/