Located behind the Bolivar Church is a free community garden open to anyone who wants fresh produce.

In 2019, the Bolivar Church began discussions of starting a community garden. The church is surrounded by housing for low-income individuals and the elderly. Sue Storment, Bolivar Church member and garden manager, wanted to assist these individuals by providing healthy food at no cost.

“The most expensive food in the store is what’s the healthiest. People bypass it a lot of times because they can’t afford it,” Storment said.

In 2020, the church planted its first garden and opened it to the community. The garden grows green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and peppers.

Besides the initial cost of some equipment, the garden is relatively inexpensive to maintain, according to Storment. The church spends about $25 each year on plants, as Storment has started many plants at the church using plant cuttings from her personal garden.

The Bolivar Church has used different methods to inform the local community of the garden. Church members have gone door-to-door and invited people to see the garden. The garden has also been featured in the local newspaper on two separate occasions. Lastly, a local sign company donated a large banner that advertises the garden. The banner is located at the front of the church and is visible from the road.

Posted around the garden are signs asking people not to garden from “sundown Friday to sundown Saturday for Sabbath rest.” Next to the garden is also a Signs of the Times news box that is often filled with free literature to anyone interested. Garden visitors have asked questions about the church and Adventist beliefs.

Storment said the garden has been a “door opener” for the church to the community. She encourages churches who are struggling to reach their community to start a garden.

“A community garden is a great resource for the church, because it brings the community to your church — it’s a great way to witness,” Storment said.