and a lack of food security and education on the Northeast Side.
Penn-Nabrit hopes others will be inspired to do the same.
So does the Rev. Heber Brown III, who’s made a career of extolling and evangelizing the benefits of churches using their land for farming and gardening.
Brown started the Black Church Food Security Network in Baltimore, Maryland, and will speak Tuesday at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, 3081 Columbus Pike in Delaware. He will share his work, which helps churches begin farming and gardening on church-owned land and links them with farmers to create an alternative local food system.
One of the people attending the event will be Penn-Nabrit, who uses her church’s 4,000-squarefoot, 37-bed garden to host educational opportunities for children and adults, welcome the community for events and help ease food insecurity by selling the food grown in the garden Volunteer gardener Alisa Isaac, right, gets a hug from Paula Penn-Nabrit at the Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden. for $1 a pound. The bounty includes organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified the neighborhood surrounding the church as a “low-income, low-access area,” with 33 percent of the households being lowincome, Penn-Nabrit said. The closest grocery store is more than 4 miles away, she said, and just over 13 percent of the ZIP code’s residents are without access to a car.
Brown said most churches already have the resources
they need to start a community garden: land, a kitchen, classrooms, a bus and, most importantly, a community.
“A lot of community gardens suffer because they don’t have a builtin community that has a deep motivation in order to sustain that garden,” he said. “We need systems that continue generation after generation.”
Faith communities, no matter what religion, he said, also have a moral and theological obligation to serve and to be stewards of their communities.
“There’s a greater and bigger mission, and through our work (we’re) trying to help instigate and inspire a systematic solution to a systemic problem,” Brown said.
Gardens can teach valuable lessons, Penn-Nabrit said.
“He started us in a garden for a reason,” she said of God and the Garden of Eden. She said gardens teach humans about humility and equality.
And people who garden also learn about life and death, patience, and that you reap what you sow, Penn-Nabrit said.
“There’s a direct correlation between the effort you put in and the harvest you have,” she said. “A garden is such a great way to see that ... you have to be diligent.”
For more information about the Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden, visit www.telosinc.org. To learn more and register for Dr. Heber Brown III’s faith and community gardens event at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, visit https://www.mtso. edu/theologicalcommons/ faith-food-and-flourishing/.