Behind the Abandoned Hospital

By Lynette Johnson *

Box of Veggies

Image courtesy of Baker Acres Farm, a CSA farm in Minnesota.

When my career with the Society of St. Andrew began, it sent me to Nashville, where I oversaw produce recovery and distribution throughout Tennessee and Alabama. While I was there, it appeared that I engaged in a rather frequent clandestine activity:

Every other Thursday afternoon, I headed to a parking lot behind an abandoned hospital in East Nashville. I met a man in a truck, who handed me a crate. We talked for a few minutes, I thanked him, packed the crate in my car, and headed home.

What kind of transaction was it? Perfectly legal, remarkably safe, and delightfully local—not really clandestine at all!

It was thrilling to open my crate and find the fresh, healthy treasures carefully packed inside by the Dysinger family for members of their CSA … gorgeous fruits and vegetables harvested from their farm in Williamsport, Tennessee, usually that very morning!

CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. City-dwellers (like me) commit to partner with a farm family, by signing up for a regular share of the farm’s produce. For a season, usually 14-18 weeks, CSA members receive a portion of whatever is ripe and ready on the farm that week: melons, potatoes, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, herbs, and so much more. The farm sets convenient pick-up points, where you go to receive your share. Mine happened to be behind the abandoned hospital!

By being part of a CSA, I knew that I would always have fresh, locally grown food to eat. I knew I’d be stretched to taste and prepare a few new things. And the Dysingers, of Bountiful Blessings farm, knew that they could count on my up-front payment to meet their farm obligations and expenses.

It was a great way to eat healthier, to be more connected to the earth, to eat “closer to home,” and to see that my food dollars went directly to the people producing my food. The Dysingers offered recipes and cooking advice, they shared “extra” helpings when they had them, and they even opened their farm from time to time, for CSA members to come out and visit—and lend a hand!

Depending on where you live, you can likely find one or more CSA options nearby. Most CSAs offer fruits and vegetables during a long summer season. Increasingly, though, you can find tailored CSAs—just berries, just meat, even just flowers! Some offer bread, egg, and jams add-ons, and some offer fall and winter options as well. The cost? $15-25 per week, on average, based on the size share you choose.

Family farms are, unsurprisingly, run by families. Families who respect the earth, love what they do, and work ridiculously hard to help the earth produce the very best food possible. Shopping at a farmers market or, better yet, committing to a CSA is a great way to put roots down in your community and to help keep family farms strong.

To find a CSA near you:

Check online, searching for CSA and your location ( is a good starting place).
Ask at your local farmers market, farmers cooperative, or agriculture extension agency.

* Lynette Johnson is SoSA’s Director of Church Relations



In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.