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Garden project nourishes community

There’s a good thing growing on a few acres in northeast Denton, and the harvest enriches many lives.

Shiloh Field Community Garden supplies fruit and vegetables for nonprofit organizations including Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, crisis center Friends of the Family and child care center Fred Moore Day Nursery, and 152 personal, 15-by-15-foot plots allow families or individuals to plant their own crops free of charge.

“We get a lot of folks that don’t know how to garden, that don’t have the money to buy seeds,” said Gene Gumfory, a lifelong gardener who founded Shiloh Field in 2009. “We have a lot of low-income folks that work out here, and they raise this themselves. That’s good. That’s what it’s all about.”

Last year, volunteers harvested nearly 24,000 pounds of produce at Shiloh Field Community Garden. This year, they expect to harvest more than 30,000 pounds of food.

“They feed little kids, low-income moms and dads, single parents … sometimes three meals a day,” Gumfory said. “And when I can carry them some green beans, corn, carrots and things like that, they probably eat better there than they do at home.”

Denton Bible Church owns the land Shiloh Field sits on, but the garden operates entirely on donations of money and supplies. Volunteers till the soil to help put food on the plates of those who might otherwise go hungry.

Gumfory said the idea for the garden was planted in his mind during a service at Denton Bible Church, as he listened to a passage from the Bible that describes God planting a garden and putting a man in charge of it.

“For the first time — and I can’t tell you why — it meant something different,” Gumfory said of hearing the passage. “I said, ‘Hey, I can do that.’”

One of the nonprofits that receives fresh fruits and vegetables from Shiloh Field is Fred Moore Day Nursery, the only income-based child care center in Denton that serves children younger than 2.

Office manager Lynda West says the donated produce from Shiloh Field saves the nursery a considerable amount of money on food. The staff also uses the vegetables to teach the kids about making healthy food choices.

“I think it’s just phenomenal,” West said. “I think it’s an amazing thing for the community to have something like that.”

We agree, and we commend those who have worked through the years to make Shiloh Field Community Garden a reality.

The project nourishes not only those who are hungry, but also those who contribute by volunteering to till the soil or support the work through donations.

It’s a good example of how a simple idea can take root and flourish in the hands of caring individuals.