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The plants didn’t look like much when distributed in May, but they ended up providing fresh produce for hundreds of struggling local families.

Gardeners from Calvin Christian Reformed Church and Grace Community CRC, both in Oak Lawn, Ill., took home tomato, pepper, and cucumber plants to nurture all summer and bring back the harvest when it was ready. Other members bought their own plants, while others donated purchased produce.

Both churches partner with Share the Harvest, a program involving many churches and community garden groups who grow produce for food pantries and soup kitchens on Chicago’s south side. Last year Share the Harvest partners helped feed more than 300 families each week.

Grace Community Church also planted two raised gardens on the church property. Joan Schutt, a member of Grace, said the gardens were good conversation starters with the church’s neighbors, some of whom volunteered to keep the veggies watered during the week.

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