Great things are springing up in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh!

In the last few years, several groups in the Western Pennsylvania region have developed vegetable gardens to help meet the needs of urban and suburban residents who have limited access to fresh produce and healthy food supplies.

Last year, our diocesan Social Justice and Outreach Committee (SJO) initiated a small grant program to help Episcopal parishes and organizations to create new vegetable gardens or to support and grow an already functioning garden. These grants, each a maximum $500, were intended to assist with small material needs such as: seed or plant purchases, fencing, bed construction, soil or fertilizer purchases, soil testing costs, hand tool purchases, water connections, and rain barrels.

Once again in 2014, the SJO is pleased to be able to award garden grants. Because of additional funds from the St. Paul's, Mt. Lebanon, Outreach Commission and private donations to supplement the SJO budget, six garden grants this year.

The committee is pleased to support new garden initiatives this year at Holy Cross, Homewood; St. Stephen's, Wilkinsburg; and St. Brendan's, Franklin Park.

In addition, continuing support was granted to Sheldon Calvary Camp in Conneaut, OH, Shepherd's Wellness in Bloomfield, and Spring Street Farms in Aliquippa. Last year's awards also helped start a garden at St. David's, Peters Township.

Volunteers are what make the gardens grow and prosper. If you have a green thumb, please consider volunteering at these gardens. Or, if you don't "dig" working in the soil, volunteer to package and distribute the produce.

And pray for just enough rain, no bad bugs, and lots of luscious and healthy vegetables.