Community Harvesters Church is already a welcoming house of worship that feeds the souls of Atlantic City residents. Now, the church is ready to invite the community for a peek at its new community gardening greenhouse that will help provide nourishment for local dinner tables.

A grand opening celebration is planned from noon to 2 p.m. May 10 at the church, located at 204 N. New York Ave. A rain date is set for May 24.

Activities include a tour of the facility and a salad tasting, according to Pastor Alexander Smith. In addition, residents can participate in earthbox container gardening activities, and informational handouts and displays on different aspects of urban agriculture will be available.

The opening of the greenhouse is a highlight for the church.

According to Smith, having a greenhouse is important to the church's mission of providing the community with fresh fruits and vegetables to eat.

The church decided about four years ago to expand its existing food pantry program to include fresh fruits and vegetables by turning a vacant lot that was previously used for additional church parking into a community vegetable and fruit garden.

It was the church's hope at the time that creating the garden would allow it to become part of the solution to the problem of finding local fresh produce, Smith noted.

Tended by members of the congregation, the garden was a success and through the help of the Atlantic County Master Gardener Program, Smith eventually received certification as a Master Gardener and completed a Hydroponics Growers Workshop.

In June and July of 2012, the church received grants from AtlantiCare and the Casino Redevelopment Investment Authority, and with these funds was able to put up a fence and purchase supplies and equipment, according to Smith.

This past February, the church finally erected its own community gardening greenhouse so it would be able to grow vegetables year round.

"Community gardening helps promote healthy communities and provide food security for many low-income persons," Smith wrote in announcing the opening of the greenhouse.

The church's future plans for sustaining its urban agriculture program include selling what it grows to local businesses, providing an opportunity for community outreach through volunteer programs and seeking grant money partnerships for supplies and maintenance. In addition, the church hopes to continue educating the community, in particular the youth, on the benefits of gardening, hopefully adding its program and experience to the city's summer youth program, according to Smith.

For more information, call 609-340-8061.

Contact Lucia C. Drake:

609-272-7295

If you go

What:

Community Harvesters Church greenhouse grand opening

When:

Noon to 2 p.m. May 10 (rain date May 24)

Where:

204 N. New York Ave., Atlantic City

More info:

609-340-8061