Methodists and Civitans work together on garden for Rowan Helping Ministries

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2012

“I thought I was crazy for saying I’d be here so early,” said Mary Ann Johnson as she picked corn Friday morning. “But it’s beautiful out here.”
She and seven other volunteers — Mark and Judy Beymer, Faye Hollar, Don Hylton, Darrell Lewis, Frank Saunders and Lee Wagoner — met at 7 a.m. to work in a garden that is a project of First United Methodist Church and the Salisbury Civitans.
Mark Beymer — a member of both FUMC and the Civitans — is heading up the project.
Beymer says that during First Methodist’s church-wide study of the Charles Sheldon book “In His Steps,” members were discussing worthy mission projects, including what could be done to help Rowan Helping Ministries.
Someone suggested a garden. Tom Langford said he had some land that could be used, and Beymer agreed to coordinate the labor and oversee the project.
Part of the garden was planted on the Briggs Road property of Tom and Barbara Langford, who are longtime members of FUMC. Another garden was planted across the road on a plot of land that was offered for use by Katherine Wagner.
The garden has been a collaborative effort, with both FUMC members and Civitans providing labor.
The garden was started in April, Beymer says, with planting done at different times.
Beymer says his background in agriculture is limited to a job many years ago working as a corporate pilot for Bruce Church Inc., a huge agribusiness concern with vast land holdings in California and Arizona. He later worked for NASA and more recently as assistant vice president at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
“We’re learning our way through this,” said Beymer, adding that a fall garden is in the works. “We hope to ramp it up next year. Next year, we’ll know a little bit more how to go about it.”
It appears that they know a good bit already.
The garden has already yielded more than 500 pounds of food. After Friday’s haul, which included tomatoes, corn and peas, the garden had produced 250 pounds of beets, 20 pounds of greens, 37 pounds of onions, 20 dozen ears of corn, 80 pounds of beans, 25 pounds of peas, 83 pounds of tomatoes and 10 pounds of okra.
Beymer says that before the garden was planted he asked Rowan Helping Ministries what kind of vegetables they might want for the pantry.
“I thought maybe they’d want some squash or zucchini,” he said, but he learned that the pantry received plenty of squash from the community.
“They wanted green beans, onions, corns, peas, tomatoes and okra,” Beymer said.
And so that’s what they planted.
After Friday’s picking was done, Johnson delivered the peas to the Lutheran Home so residents there could shell them before the peas were taken to Rowan Helping Ministries.
Cindy Rentz was having fun working the peas out of their shells.
“I used to help my momma and my daddy do this,” she said.