The Generous Garden Project
By: David Lyda (Cover Story From: Volume 2 - Issue 2)
(All photos provided by The Generous Garden Project.)
God called Noah to build an ark, and He called Solomon to build a temple. God called Bo Cable to build a garden. This was not something Bo even saw on the horizon. In fact, at that point in his life, he felt broken. After being laid off as a top level Executive Director of Digital Media for Strang Communications, Bo did not know which way to go. Job opportunities came his way, but pride often kept him from taking the positions that were definitely not CEO level jobs. Other doors were closed in the job search because he was frankly too qualified! After prompting from some close friends, the Cable family relocated to Greenville, SC.
Bo received the initial vision to build a garden around 1998. That’s all it was. No details about what kind of garden. What would the purpose of the garden be? Bo didn’t even know anything about agriculture! All he knew was that God said to build a garden, and the timing was right by February of 2011. After additional Divine providence, this simple command soon developed into The Generous Garden Project.
South Carolina is the ninth highest state for hunger in the United States. This non-profit organization’s mission is to feed the hungry, but it does so in somewhat unconventional ways. Instead of directly serving food to the poor, homeless, and downtrodden, The Generous Garden Project utilizes already existing ministries. They subsequently have become the supplier for many organizations and individuals, including: Miracle Hill, Meals on Wheels, The Storehouse, Calvary Christian Fellowship, God's Pantry, Greenville Rescue Mission, Greer Soup Kitchen, Project Host, Marantha Redencion, Turning Point South Carolina, Safe Harbor, Salvation Army, Cross Roads Baptist, Shepherd's Gate, Harvest Food Bank, Beechsprings Church, New Image Outreach, Boys Home of the South, individual families, single parents, and many more.
Another thing that truly sets The Generous Garden Project apart is what they are supplying. Healthy foods are not always an option for those in need, but that is all that comes from the Generous Garden. Nothing can replace the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Organic foods may bring to mind many things, like health nuts, high prices, or even hippies! All of The Generous Garden Projects’ fruits and vegetables are produced organically, and there is actually legitimate Biblical wisdom to such an undertaking. As Bo Cable likes to explain, “It is getting gardening back to the way God designed it.” Organic gardening takes away the harmful manmade pesticides and uses natural compost and fertilizers. This results are healthier and often more delicious produce.
The Generous Garden Project’s main location is on Verdin Road (near Woodruff Road), but there is also a smaller project in the Judson community right across the street from the Elementary School. One aim with the outlying garden and gardens to come is to have the people work for their community. The volunteers in that particular area would be able to work and put the produce right back into the families there.
Worm farms, chicken coops, and old vegetables are used to generate much of the compost for the gardens. By utilizing these natural processes, live organisms (aka: microbes) are put back into the soil. These microbes are destroyed year after year in modern gardening that uses chemicals. Replenishing the live organisms is vital to a garden’s success.
The Verdin Road setup also boasts South Carolina’s largest aquaponics facility. This technique makes use of tilapia fish that are placed inside tanks. On top of the water are floating barges that the plants grow on. Aquaponics allows food to grow at an extremely fast pace year around, and their success is not as dependent upon the weather since the process is located inside of green houses. In addition to the fish, worms, and chickens, The Generous Garden also works with bees and goats.
Besides the fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from The Generous Garden Project’s own production, other local fields are often gleaned as well. Gleaning is the salvaging of produce that is normally left behind on the ground after the main harvest. This is accomplished by using The Generous Garden Project’s many volunteers.