PRINCEVILLE — After a team of volunteers finished working on the community garden at the Church of the Pacific on Saturday, Pastor Clyde Fujikawa looked it over and smiled.
“I am blessed with all that has happened,” he said. “And I am grateful.”
The church will benefit from more than the restored organic garden.
It will also be receiving a share of a $10,000 grant for its food pantry from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, courtesy of the morning project led by the Kauai North Shore Lions Club.
Joined by Rotarians, Zonta Club members, church members and others, the steadfast group did much in four hours under the sun. They enlarged the 20-year-old garden with beds and tons of soil and mulch, tilled the ground, ripped out weeds and planted rows of vegetables like kale and bok choy. New gardening boxes were brought in leveled and filled with soil.
The united efforts put the Lions well beyond the required 80 hours to earn the grant.
“The North Shore community just came together,” said Lion Dick Gott.
“We had 35 people. We had a bunch of smiles,” Gott said. “It’s all people who care about what we’re doing.”
“Incredible,” shouted one volunteer.
The special organic garden was in need of a makeover, said Ron and Ann Garrison of Church of the Pacific, who started working in the garden three months ago simply because they saw the need and wanted to pitch in.
“This garden was in shambles,” he said.
“So we wanted to bring everyone together,” she added.
That, they did.
With Lions Club members joining the charge, they gave the plot of land new life by noon.
They got down on hands and knees and got dirty, but filled the air with plenty of good cheer and laughter.
“We did it in four hours,” said Lion Patrick O’Connell. “That’s a tribute to the community because everybody just pulls together and gets it done.”
“All of the sudden, here we are, a beautiful place,” Ron Garrison said as he glanced at the grounds.
Vegetables and fruit from the garden already go to the food pantry. With the added beds and soil and extended gardening grounds, it may be able to produce even more of the egg plant, basil, oregano, chives, lettuce and kale. Lots of kale.
Fujikawa said the church’s food pantry gives away about 6,000 pounds of food to an estimated 300 to 400 people each Wednesday, a mission of the church for more than 20 years. The organic garden supplements the canned and other foods that are given away, along with fruit from North Shore orchards.
He appreciated the efforts of the volunteers. “They have been awesome,” he said.
With the project completed, the Lions will receive a $10,000 grant check from the Weinberg Foundation and the check will be presented to the Church of the Pacific for its food pantry. The food pantry in Kilauea will also receive some of the funds. This is the seventh year the Kauai North Shore Lions have participated in the program.
Kimberly Bayless, a teacher of second- and third-graders at the Gecko Gazebo school at the church, said gardening is integrated into their curriculum, seed to harvest. There are lessons on planting, cultivating, cooking and eating.
She said the church members wanted to provide the healthiest greens possible with its organic garden. The land is rich and fertile, so it just needed some helping hands to bring out its best.
“It literally goes from farm to table on Wednesdays,” Bayless said.
Gott said their goal is to help the church and the food pantry keep hungry people fed.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said.