Sustainable Table: Gospel’s Garden

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. – The Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass has a garden which is producing thousands of pounds of food. It took many donations of time and skills to make that garden grow, but now that it is, it feeds residents at the mission as well as those who are still in on the streets or just struggling to find a good meal.

This is the first year they have had raised beds at the Gospel Mission and it’s already produced an estimated 3,500 pounds of food. And it’s obvious they are still going strong. Strawberries in November: that’s how good bill Perez is. His garden might make Eden a little envious. Bill came to the Gospel Rescue Mission a year ago, fighting an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Once Bill grows it, it doesn’t have to go far; a good majority ends up in the mission’s kitchen.

“These guys could look in there and find something and put together some of the best meals very hearty and very healthy too,” said Kitchen Supervisor David Stephens

Three days after David Stephens arrived at the Rescue Mission to kick an 18-year meth addiction; he got the job as kitchen supervisor. He helps manage the food that comes in and the cooks.

“You get a lot of enjoyment out of making it fresh,” Stephens said. “You can see that when he busts out a meal, he’s, he’s taking pride in what he’s making.”

Of course, there are plenty of quick options.

“But when they have a soup or a sandwich or a salad that we made, something big and hearty, I can see they get more enjoyment out of that than they do something like a slice of pizza,” Stephens explained.

“Everything is pretty much made from scratch here,” resident Gregory Hook said. “Actually, mostly from scratch.”

Greg Cook was homeless until recently.

“You get three meals a day. I mean, granted, you gotta get up at 5:30 a.m. to have breakfast, but other than that, you know, being on the streets, you never know where you’re next meal is coming from,” Greg said. “Here you know you are going to eat three times a day and it’s going to be healthy.”

“Were seeing a lot of people trying to kick heroine, lot of people trying to kick methamphetamine [addiction],” explained Stephens. “It’s like right away, it’s like the light goes on. You start seeing an improvement.”

Greg might be joining the kitchen staff soon, saying he’s currently receiving french culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu. For now he’s happy with what’s being served up.

“I’m not going to step on anyone’s toes,” Greg said. “They know what they’re doing and they’re good.”

Eventually when bill heads back to Puerto Rico to be with his family, someone will have to take over in the garden, but so far no one has showed quite as green a thumb as Bill.

“Maybe too much worky. It’s not too much worky for me. It’s good. I like it,” said Bill.

“You know there is nothing more satisfying than serving that you just grew right out of the garden,” said Mission Men’s Coordinator, Brian Bouteller. “We have about 150 residents plus the rest of the transient traffic. They are hot meals, they’re good meals, they’re healthy, they’re nutritious.”

The mission is serving about 5,000 meals a month and they are changing lives, leaving a legacy, one tomato, one pepper, one tomatillo at a time.