You’d be surprised to learn what a potato can do; it can clean silver, grow roses, and even power a clock. One pound of seed potatoes can grow up to ten pounds of potatoes!
Concord United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee has seen the power within a simple potato. For years, Concord has been the host for a seed potato drop in Eastern Tennessee. A load of seed potatoes is delivered to the church in the early spring and more than a dozen agencies pick up their allotment of seed for their clients each year.
Our friend, Brooke, is the director of Elk Garden School Community Ministry, a recipient of those seed potatoes for the past three years. This ministry is proof that a few seed potatoes can provide much more than one pound of food.
The partnership among Concord UMC, Elk Garden School Community Ministry, and SoSA provides this ministry the resources to feed people, teach new skills, and bring a community together.
The Saturday morning pick-up of 7,000 pounds of seed potatoes is only the beginning of the journey for Brooke and the Elk Garden School Community Ministry. Once delivered, those potatoes are distributed to people who visit the food pantry, community garden volunteers, and community residents who will grow food on their own land.
The food pantry is the first step to address the food needs of community residents. Once they connect with the residents, Brooke and her team seek to address additional needs. Those seed potatoes are the perfect opportunity to educate residents about growing food for themselves. At no cost to the food pantry clients, Brooke and her volunteers provide seed potatoes and training to demonstrate that even with limited space, they can grow food in containers of all shapes and sizes at their homes.
The ministry’s community garden is the next step. Volunteers plant seed potatoes, other veggies, fruits, and herbs to demonstrate the stages of planting, tending, and harvesting. They grow a variety of fresh produce for the food pantry inventory. They even prepare “taste tests” to encourage residents to try nutritious foods that might be new to them.
Though it is in a rural region, the ministry center is located in an area that has very few providers of fresh food. To address this, residents with some land, expertise, and enthusiasm can volunteer to plant larger quantities of seed potatoes on their land to harvest and donate back to the food pantry.
It turns out there’s a lot of promise in a plain potato. With the help of Concord UMC, SoSA, and the folks at Elk Garden School Community Ministry, a community is being fed, learning new skills, and sharing the joy of harvesting nourishing food in their own backyards.
If you would like to sponsor a similar project to serve individuals, families, organizations like Brooke’s, and surrounding communities, click here to donate online.
P.S. – Want to learn more about seed potatoes? Click here for more info.