By Linda Burchette/ SWVa Today
SALTVILLE, Va. (Feb. 9, 2018) -- For its inaugural year, the Widow’s Garden in Saltville helped teach residents how to grow vegetables. This year the education will extend to preserving those vegetables and adding them to nutritious family meals.
Named for Madam Russell United Methodist Church, the garden site is next to the church on a 40x40 plot of land secured by the Rev. Tim Best through a $4,405 grant from the Holston United Methodist Conference.
Vegetables were planted last year in raised boxes and flowers were planted around the site. The boxes will be used again this year and a replica cabin of the one in which Madam Russell lived will accommodate classes on gardening, nutrition and canning.
Pastor Best and Madam Russell UMC along with Bruce Wilkinson set guidance for the garden and the project is overseen by Appalachian Sustainable Development in Abingdon. ASD applies for grants such as Grow Your Own for its regional gardens to provide seeds and expertise, said Best, and this year the Saltville garden will be a host site for Grow Your Own.
Grants last year helped provide the growing boxes, dirt and a water system to collect rainwater off the church. There are two 200-gallon tanks to provide water for the garden, Best said. The garden organizers had asked Saltville Town Council last year for a break in the water bill for the church in order to provide for the garden, which was approved, but as it turned out they didn’t need help because of the rainwater collection system.
Best said the grant through the Holston Conference sought to help the community fight hunger, encourage community involvement and grow vegetables to be given away to churches, shut-ins and food pantries.
The Holston Conference grant was awarded from the Annual Conference mission offering for local children in poverty, Best said. "The grant we received through Holston Conference was used in building the boxes, obtaining the fill dirt, and installing the water tanks."