Sometimes things seem meant to be.
When Jack Weller, executive chair for the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland County (BGCCC) invited Miles Hamrick, loan officer for the Shelby office of Carolina Farm Credit, to visit the BGCCC, part of the tour included the club's garden area, which was in need of repair and restoration.
It just so happens that every year each Farm Credit office takes on a community project - and they especially like to work on tasks that relate to farming or agriculture. So when Hamrick saw the garden beds in need of repair, he knew his office had a perfect project.
"This is a great fit for us," says Hamrick. "We like to do projects that help members of the urban community learn more about farming. So this is just a wonderful opportunity to provide a place where these kids can learn about growing their own vegetables."
Weller and BGCCC executive director Josh Propst were delighted when Hamrick expressed his desire to help out with the garden area, located at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer next door to the BGCCC facility on Sumter Street in Shelby.
"When they approached us about doing this work, we were very pleased to have the help," says Propst. "This was a project that really needed to get done, and they had the people and the expertise to do it."
Hamrick and his team from Farm Credit's Shelby branch were directed in their work by volunteers from the local Cooperative Extension Service. They cleared the weeds out of the garden and tore out the old rotting wooden beds. They then spent a day off-site to construct new beds, which they installed and filled with soil on the third day.
This all happened in early May, and the kids at the BGCCC have been hard at work in the garden ever since.
"This year they planted zucchini, squash, peppers and tomatoes," says Propst. "The produce from the garden will be split among the families of the kids who participate in the gardening project. Last year we planted a lot of different plants, but we didn't have enough of any one thing to send some home with everyone. This year we decided to limit our crops to just a few items so that everyone will get some of each vegetable."
In addition to the outdoor garden, the BGCCC also has an indoor hydroponic garden, which has been planted with a variety of herbs that will complement the vegetables grown in the outdoor garden.
"This gives the kids a real education not only in gardening and agriculture but also in science, since they learn about what makes a garden grow successfully," says Propst.
For their part, Hamrick and his office-mates were happy to be of service.
"We try to spread the love to a variety of organizations," he says. "In the past we have worked on projects such as spreading mulch at the Broad River Greenway, serving food to the homeless, and building a bathroom for Habitat. But it is always great when we can do a project that relates so well to our overall mission of helping farmers and and agriculture in this area."
For more information about the BGCCC, visit the club's website at
www.bgcclevelandcounty.org. For more information about Carolina Farm Credit, visit the organization's website at www.carolinafarmcredit.com.
By April Hoyle Shauf, Special to Community First Media