We began Food for a Thousand in the winter/ spring of 2013 and 2014. Many of us had heard and read that Albany, though surrounded by farms and agriculture, contains many food deserts. Food deserts are places, usually in poorer parts of cities, that have few if any stores that sell healthy, organic, or quality food. Many people in food deserts often rely on gas stations for their main source of nutrition. Besides being expensive, the options are limited and unhealthy. And so much of the food given at local feeding ministries is processed and packaged.

Though St. Patrick’s isn’t in a food desert, we had the idea of growing local, healthy food that would be donated to feeding ministries and families in and around Albany. Food for a Thousand is not a community garden, as they are often called, because we do not keep any of the food for those who grow it. Instead, Food for a Thousand is a Ministry Garden, and 100% of the food is given away.

After planning meetings in the late winter of 2013, many local companies donated lumber, labor, garden soil and an irrigation system for the Food for a Thousand garden at St. Patrick’s. The church effort made the first delivery of fresh vegetables in mid-July 2013. By the end of 2014, the FFT ministry had provided 1,013 pounds of produce to the food pantries.

Now as an ongoing ministry, parishioners of St. Patrick’s and other gardening friends plant, grow, tend and harvest vegetables from eighteen raised beds on the church property. The vegetables grown are primarily donated to two food pantries in Albany, Neighbors in Need and The Lord’s Pantry.

If you are in need of food or are soliciting food for a feeding ministry, please call the church office or e-mail one of the people at the bottom of this page.

Turnip greens, kale, summer squash, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beans, peas, and cucumbers are among the crops that have done well in the Food for a Thousand garden.

We are always looking for people to help, and there are lots of ways. Planting, pruning, harvesting, delivering, or donating, there is something for everyone, whether or not you are a part of St. Patrick’s.

Contact the church office (, Juby Phillips ( or Master Gardener Norris Wootton ( for more information. There is also a regular e-mail that goes out to volunteers. Sign up if you would like more information.