In 2012 First Church converted an adjacent empty lot into the Feed My Sheep Garden growing vegetables for distribution to the wider community through the Food Pantry.
With the guidance of Master Gardener volunteers and a Garden Manager, the church runs the garden with a crew of volunteers. We welcome your participation in this ministry. If you would like to become involved, please contact us.
First Church collaborates with Harvest Home, the Haven of Rest homeless shelter for women and children, in training selected candidates in vegetable gardening and market stand operation. Not only do the program participants hone their gardening skills but also they learn valuable business skills and the interpersonal skills needed on any job.
The History of the Feed My Sheep Garden
The name, Feed My Sheep, comes from the last chapter of the Gospel of John, when Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter says he does. “Feed my sheep,” is Jesus’ reply. The phrase was often used by beloved former Senior Minister, Dr. Gabe L. Campbell, who died in 2012.
The garden started with a heaven-sent boost from a company called Filtrexx. One of Filtrexx’s products is Gardensoxx, large tubes of black nylon filled with compost. The company donated enough to create the Garden soxx equivalent of 16 4×8 raised beds. All we had to do was poke holes in the Soxx, plant a seed or a plant and the garden simply took off. We planted the garden according to guidance on nutrition from UA’s department of nutrition. A nearby resident, who is now a member, has become the garden’s main steward.
In addition to the garden, several Akron high school students and University of Akron art students collaborated with Akron sculptor John Comunale to build the beautiful gates facing East Market Street and landscape the front of the garden. That project was coordinated through UA’s ArtsLIFT program, which uses student talent to build significant public art throughout the city.
At the same time the garden was coming to be, First Church knew it needed a new playground area and, with the support of the Dominion Foundation, the Welty Family Foundation, the Downtown Akron Kiwanis as well as significant gifts from church members and their families, the new playground opened.
In 2016 the Neighborhood Network of University Park donated a greenhouse for use by this garden and other community gardens in the University Park area.