“No One Here Should Ever Go Hungry:” Harmony Gardens

IMG_0635We recently wrote about an upcoming workday taking place at Harmony Gardens in Russellville, Arkansas. I had a chance to attend to the workday and learn a bit more about the people operating the garden and the motivations behind their work.

Located on two large corner lots belonging to the First United Methodist Church in Russellville, Harmony Gardens is a community-led effort to raise food for both the neighborhood and for the Manna House, a food pantry located near the church building. According to assistant pastor Gail Brooks, Manna House serves 20-40 families each day. Last year they served food to over 15,000 individuals in the region.

Several church members attended the workday, along with a few people from the neighborhood, including ten-year-old Faith Jones who has been coming to the garden since it was first created. Inside the raised beds workers were planting carrots, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, pepper, greens, and okra.

Joyce Lindsey was adding zinnia seeds alongside the vegetables to help bring color and butterflies to the garden. “I think the more young people we can teach the better we will all will be,” Lindsey explains. She grew up in Boone County and recalls eating garden fresh produce on a daily basis. “It’s a very good stress reliever and just makes you feel good to get up in the morning and go see what came up overnight or what opened up a blossom.” Later on in our conversation as we talked about the ample land and long growing season here in Arkansas she shared her conviction that “no one here should ever go hungry.”

In the lot adjacent to the raised beds volunteers were planting a tree donated to the garden. When the church first purchased this property, explains church member John Sorrels, they wanted to make sure they gave back to the neighborhood. In addition to the beds that supply food to the neighborhood and Manna House, they also built a fire pit for community use and a shaded reading area with benches. Assistant pastor Gail Brooks says someday soon they’ll be installing a labyrinth and meditation garden that will be open to the entire community. In the early days when the garden was first created there was some confusion about how everything would work, she says. But now that it’s taking shape people are donating plants and trees for the garden. “That tree was donated,” she says, referring to the Japanese Maple going in the ground. “Others trees have been donated in people’s memory and honor,” she adds.

Harmony Gardens is open to anyone in the community, and donations of money and/or labor are always welcome. To learn more about Manna House and the garden itself call 479-968-1232.

Harmony Gardens is just one of the many organizations/individuals we’ve been meeting with as part of our work via the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and Community Action. We’re working on a community-based publication called the Garden Book, which will explore of the stories behind why people choose to grow and how this skill enriches their lives and the community at large.

You can learn more about the work at the McElroy House: Organization for Culture Resources and Community Action here.

To read previous columns and to share your stories, go here.

Thanks so much for reading!


Photos from the Harmony Gardens Work Day:










  1. “No One Here Should Ever Go Hungry:” Garden Project Meets with Harmony Gardens | McElroy House says:

    […] A full write-up on their work day can be found here, via the Boiled Down Juice.  […]