Spring is here, the snow is hopefully gone, and the Diocese of Pittsburgh is starting to bloom!

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

Starting in 2013, the Social Justice and Outreach Committee (SJO) has offered a small grant program (maximum $500) to help Episcopal parishes and organizations create new vegetable gardens or to support an already functioning garden. These grants are 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, rain barrels, etc.

Once again in 2016, the SJO is pleased to announce the awarding of garden grants. Because of additional funds from outreach commissions at St. Paul's, Mt. Lebanon, and Christ Church, North Hills, along with private donations to supplement the SJO budget, we were able to fund eight garden grants this year. 

We are delighted to support at full request new garden initiatives at St. Andrew's, Highland Park and Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill. In addition, continuing support goes to Holy Cross, Homewood; St. Brendan's, Franklin Park; Sheldon Calvary Camp, Conneaut, OH; St. David's, Peters Township; Shepherd's Wellness, Bloomfield; and Spring Street Farms at the Community of Celebration, Aliquippa.

If you are a gardener, please consider volunteering at any of these gardens. Volunteers are what make our gardens grow and prosper. Or, if you have the proverbial "black thumb," you can volunteer to package, transport, and distribute produce. There is always plenty to do around a garden. Contact Pat Eagon Stafford with questions at pkeagon@gmail.com.