Superior church garden seeks outlet for bounty

Residents are invited to pick fresh produce weekday afternoons at Faith United Methodist Church.

Organizer Don Johnson looks over a bed of vegetables in the community garden beside Faith United Methodist Church as people gather behind him for the church's weekly food pantry distribution. (Maria Lockwood /

Faith United Methodist Church connects hungry people with fresh produce through its community garden at 1531 Hughitt Ave., Superior.

Launched in 2018, the garden next to the church building has grown to include 41 raised beds filled with carrots, peas, tomatoes, squash, beets and more. Now, they need someone to eat the bounty.

“I would invite the community to stop by any afternoon to come and pick some,” said Don Johnson, who’s been the driving force behind the garden.

Produce from the garden is handed out to food pantry recipients on Tuesdays. The church pantry feeds 25-40 households a week, according to organizer Linda Berg. On Tuesday, July 28, a box full of the church’s fresh cucumbers was available to all who wanted some.


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Cucumbers picked fresh from the community garden at Faith United Methodist Church await distribution through the church food pantry Tuesday, July 28. (Maria Lockwood /

This year’s garden has blossomed with the hot weather and recent rain, and produce is ripening daily.

“I need people to eat it,” Johnson said. “If they come and take what they need, that’s what it’s here for.”

As people assembled for the food shelf Tuesday, Chelsea Branley picked a handful of beans from the garden.

“Don takes it to the next level,” said Branley, executive director of Harbor House Crisis Shelters, a ministry of the church. “He’s out every day, all day. He’s so dedicated to it. It’s lovely.”

Johnson brings 70 years of gardening experience to the project. He’s experimenting with some new plants this year, including lemon cucumbers, potato onions and ground cherry tomatoes, and has a bed of fresh herbs available — cilantro, tarragon, sage, lavender, chives and a bumper crop of oregano.

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Chelsea Branley, executive director of Harbor House Crisis Shelters, picks beans from the Faith United Methodist Church community garden July 29. (Maria Lockwood /


“I can grow the stuff; I don’t know how to use it,” Johnson said. “I learned how to operate a salt shaker and that’s all I need.”

Cucumbers and beans are in season now; beets, rutabaga and turnips are available. There will be tomatoes, onions and peppers soon. Pumpkins and carrots are growing.

Johnson encouraged people to stop by between 2-4 p.m. weekdays when he’s working at the garden. That way, he can help them identify what’s ripe and ready to pick. Someone picked the watermelons that were growing in the garden, Johnson said, even though they were not ripe. On Tuesday, there was only one left.

The produce is free to all. Johnson said donations are being accepted to help fund a fence to keep out rabbits.

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Coordinator Don Johnson pulls weeds from one of the 41 raised beds in Faith United Methodist Church's community garden July 28. Anyone who wants fresh produce is invited to come pick their own. (Maria Lockwood /

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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