Volunteers give and take at Goshen Health community garden


Every time Betty Mullet arrives at the Goshen Health community garden, she knows it’s going to be a good day. It’s her time to learn something new, nourish the soul and serve her community.

She also finds gardening a time of healing when she can focus on her health. Mullet volunteers at the garden, despite injuries that could slow her down.

“I had a knee replacement last year, but I still came out to help,” she said. This year, she already has figured out how to garden with one arm, while a shoulder injury heals.

Located off Professional Drive behind Goshen Retreat Women’s Health Center, the garden inspires its own therapy for community volunteers who spend a few hours a week digging in the dirt. Volunteers have sustained the gardens since the first half-acre was planted in 2016. Gardeners of all ages and experience, including students from Goshen Middle School, have helped transplant starts, water crops and harvest bushels of produce.

Colleagues from Goshen Health created the garden to promote healthier eating while educating the community on nutrition and the growing process.

“We want to spread the message of healthy eating and living,” said Sara Stalter, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Goshen Health.

Please come. Serve. Take.

Volunteers can pick vegetables for their own enjoyment. Mullet and others also donate the harvest to food pantries operated by the Church Community Services Seed to Feed program and The Window in downtown Goshen. Last year, the garden produced more than 1,000 pounds for the pantries.

Stalter hopes to harvest an even bigger crop this year. Seed to Feed has donated seeds and starter plants, ranging from tomatoes and cucumbers to squash, melons and peppers. An asparagus plant, donated by a Goshen Health Colleague, will keep on giving year after year.

Area residents volunteer at the garden for a variety of reasons. Some enjoy the outdoors and getting a little dirty for a good cause. Others want to help expand food access in their neighborhood. The farmer who plows the field each spring considers it his hobby. It’s also a way to meet new people and share ideas about using locally grown foods in everyday meal preparation.

As this year’s planting season approaches, volunteers have started collecting tools, buckets and hoses to leave at the garden. Mullet hopes to bring along a wagon this year to make carting crates of produce from the field easier for the one-armed gardener.

Community members are welcome to work in the garden anytime. Stalter recommends bringing gloves, insect repellant and plenty of water to rehydrate. New this year, Stalter is planning garden maintenance sessions on Saturday mornings. 

If you have questions about the Goshen Health community garden, send an email to Sara Stalter, sstalter@goshenhealth.com.