Volunteers help build a new community garden by Grace church

It was late Saturday morning, and Kevin Totty egged on a small crowd of volunteers gathered at Sixth and Union streets to erupt into cheers.

One duo was nearly finished assembling the metal exterior for a raised garden bed — one of several to be located in the shape of a cross in an aged parking lot owned by Grace Episcopal Church — and the progress was a feat to celebrate.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! We have a winner getting a fabulous prize!” Totty announced jokingly, clapping his hands. Others laughed nearby. After a few moments, and a few screws away from finishing, Totty stepped in to help.

The moment was emblematic of the project they were there to complete. Totty summed it up a few minutes before

We’re all working together. It’s a collaboration,” he said.

Nearby, a few piles of soil and stone awaited use to help the new spot for the church’s “Good News Garden” take shape. Jeanette Ettin, a worship leader at Grace and the garden’s coordinator, said they got a $20,000 grant from the church’s Diocese of Eastern Michigan to make it happen after previously having a garden on a different property.

All of it, they said, was to help continue past efforts in feeding those in need in the community.

Pastor Kevin Totty helps lead a line passing off logs of wood to sit at the base of the garden beds at Sixth Street and Union Street near Grace Episcopal Church in Port Huron on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

“This year, I said, ‘You know, we have to do something,’ and I went to the vestry, and I said, ‘We have to have a place.’ … That’s why we ended up doing it this way,” Ettin said. “I was talking to Kevin and I said, ‘So, let’s do it on the church property.'”

“It is to do exactly what we’re doing: Building community,” she added. “Not just with each other, but churches of different kinds. It doesn’t even have to be a church. It can be any kind of community organization.”

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