Standing on the side of North
Carolina Hwy. 39 in the Pilot community, Elaine Lewis holds up two signs and
talks to the coming cars with the same words: “Free Vegetables.”
Lewis and her cohort Teresa
Alford spent a recent Saturday manning a roadside produce stand — for the
ministry, not for the money. Lewis and Alford talked about how much this
project through Pilot Baptist Church in Zebulon means to them.
“It’s been really nice,”
said Alford. “Most of the time it all gets gone.”
While Lewis’ garden came
early this year, she’s still
sharing its bounty with others. This week she brought new potatoes to
share with church members and at the roadside stand.
The church partnered with a
local non-profit called Grow & Share, which fights hunger by promoting
gardening and community building.
The stand is near the church
with signs dotting the road in both directions to notify people of its
presence. It started the first week in July and will continue until the crops
are harvested. While it’s open a couple of hours Saturday morning, ministry
happens throughout the week.
“Sometimes when people bring
it to your door, it’s easier to accept,” Alford said.
On Fridays, Alford gets a
phone call from a farmer and fellow church member about what’s available on his
land. She and her husband, Jan, who had the idea to start the ministry, go and
pick what’s available.
“When it’s ready, it’s
ready,” she said. “It is a job. There’s no doubt about it.
“We’ve been talking about
doing something. Everybody has their gifts. We can be up here and man the
And if there happens to be
leftovers on Saturdays?
Easy answer: make bags for
shut-ins and other neighbors.
Some of the people visiting
the stand said they heard about it through the local newspapers.
“It means that you have a
bigger meal,” one lady said. “It means a lot.”
Another said it helped
stretch the budget for her family. Plus it provides fresh, nutritious fruits
“The Lord wouldn’t leave me
alone until I did something about it,” Jan Alford said. That’s when one of the men
at church told him about Grow & Share.
“I think we’ve all received
a blessing from it.”
Kay Whatley, one of the
founders of Grow & Share, said she and her husband started the non-profit
in 2008 “when everything was going poorly for our nation. Some of our kids’
friends from school started taking part in backpack buddies. Things were crazy
They hated to see people
choosing to skip buying medicine or food in order to pay the mortgage.
started thinking there must be something they could do. While the dry weather
has hurt production, the results are still a blessing.
Volunteers at Pilot Baptist
Church have helped advertise the non-profit and aid their neighbors through
“It seems like it’s easy and
people are willing,” she said.
Grow & Share gave away
14,000 plants this year. “Some planted an extra garden just for this,” she