In the summer of 2016, the idea sprung to start a community garden to make better use of the backyard and use the bounty to contribute to Smokey’s Pantry. In no time the plans were drawn and the hard work began. Kristen Sommerfeld was our first Missions Intern, overseeing UGrow, she and her dad built the raised beds and she planted the first crop in the garden that summer. Jack Marshall stepped in as the next intern and stayed in the position for two years adding a rain barrel and compost to the garden! Margie Peeler took over after Jack bringing her knowledge of organic farming. Margie worked on a local organic farm here in Knoxville, TN in the summer of 2019 and was excited to bring new vegetables to the UGrow garden. These three have a built a strong foundation for all interns and students in the future. Kristen is currently attending Seminary for her masters in divinity and Margie will begin in the fall of 2022, they both carry their love of farming and gardening with them. Kristen currently oversees the Columbia Theological Seminary’s Sustaining Attention to God’s Earth program and Margie will be working toward a certificate in Faith, Food, and Environmental Justice from Duke Divinity School in addition to her MDiv.
This program teaches students about when to grow specific vegetables, how to compost, the value of using rain water, the importance of rich fertile soil and the frustration of dying crops. These are life skills that these students will use forever.