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  • Writer's pictureDiocese of WNC

A Growing Legacy: Good News Garden Feeds Morganton Community

The St. Mary’s- St. Stephen’s Good News Garden in Morganton, NC is a vibrant community initiative rooted in the legacy of St. Mary’s-St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Since its inception in April 2023, the garden has been a beacon of community spirit, sustainability, and generosity. It provides fresh produce to local food pantries and fosters a deep connection to the earth.


The Workers in the Field Nestled on the beautiful 5-acre grounds of St. Mary’s-St. Stephen’s, the Good News Garden has already made significant strides. Last summer and fall alone, the garden donated over 1,200 pounds of produce to families in need. Thanks to a soil test conducted by John Whalley, one of Burke County’s Extension Master Gardeners, the soil has been enriched with nutrients in anticipation of this year’s harvest.

We are immensely grateful to everyone who has contributed to the success of this garden project. Volunteers from St. Mary’s-St. Stephen’s, The Green Team at neighboring Grace Episcopal Church, and the wider community have dedicated countless hours to planting, tending, and harvesting a variety of vegetables.

From volunteers to community donors, the Holy Spirit’s presence has been evident from the start. Bonnie Plants has shown remarkable dedication to giving back to the community by providing most of the plants and flowers grown in the garden. Additionally, horse manure was generously donated by two couples who are members of SMSS. Monetary contributions have come from The Green Team, Extension Master Gardeners of Burke County, and others. The Garden will receive an additional $3,000 from a Faith and Food Coalition Grant through The Glen Alpine Food Pantry.

Memorial donations in memory of Ray Sweany, who greatly appreciated the beauty of God’s creation, have also significantly contributed to the garden. Ray believed in the importance of being good stewards of creation. His legacy continues to share that beauty in a place he loved and is loved.


More Good News to Come We are excited about several upcoming events and initiatives that will continue to nurture our garden and community. On June 4, employees from Starbucks locations throughout the Piedmont/Foothills district will join us for a day of service. Volunteers will help weed and maintain the garden and learn about our composting initiative, planting practices, and our mission to build community. Additionally, Starbucks is conducting a garden drive, collecting supplies and used newspapers, which we use to insulate our plants and retain moisture.

In partnership with the Good News Garden, a local Girl Scout working towards her Gold Award will begin the development of a pollinator garden. This project aims to enhance biodiversity, support local pollinators, and educate the community on the importance of pollinators in our ecosystem.

We are thrilled about the addition of a blackberry bush patch and fig trees to our garden. Our blueberry bushes are also nearing the point of harvest, and we invite the community to join us in picking these delicious berries soon! With additional funding, we hope to invest in fruit trees, including cherry, peach, fig, and pear trees, enriching the variety of fresh produce we can offer our community.

Looking ahead, we are focused on further expanding our garden and volunteer base. With recent funds, an irrigation system has been put in, which will streamline the watering process and free up volunteer time for other essential tasks. We also plan to add separate garden plots for corn, squash, pumpkin, and melons.

The Good News Garden is an integral part of our broader vision to utilize our land more effectively, ensuring the care and sustainability of all God’s creation. There is something deeply spiritual and therapeutic in taking care of the earth. We aspire to deepen our understanding of how to be exemplary stewards of the land, nurturing it as it, in turn, nurtures us.


All are Welcome As is our motto in the Episcopal Church, all are welcome! All are invited to get involved with the Good News Garden regardless. Whether an experienced gardener or new to planting, time, donations, and enthusiasm are invaluable. Together, we will continue to honor God by using this beautiful land to feed those in need and share God’s love in the world.

For more information, to volunteer, or to donate, please contact the church.


About St. Mary’s-St. Stephen’s St. Mary’s & St. Stephen’s were two churches that officially combined in November 2014. Our church is nestled in a beautiful semi-rural setting with a large lawn. We are a diverse congregation, united by our unique aspirations, hopes, and dreams for the future. Embracing our diversity and Episcopal identity, we continually seek a deeper understanding of our faith, foster right relationships with one another, and strive to be a beacon of light in the world. Our goal is to live faithfully, grow in our understanding of Jesus in this ever-changing world, and seek guidance from our leaders as we endeavor to do God’s work and realize our vision.

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