ENUMCLAW – Bette Zech was inundated with zucchini.
Seven or eight years ago, “I fertilized the garden from the chicken house and things got out of hand,” she said. So Zech brought the surplus zucchini to her parish, Sacred Heart in Enumclaw — along with a few posters advertising the “garden surplus sharing table.”
Zech’s idea took off and has become a regular feature at Sacred Heart during the growing season, with many parishioners bringing in their extra produce. The harvest table, as it is now called, stands outside a door of the church, for easy drop off and pickup before or after Mass.
The produce available varies with the seasons and years. At times the table has offered squash, purple peppers, fruit, fennel, corn, green beans and, of course, zucchini. Even farm-fresh eggs showed up, but disappeared rapidly, said Mathew Weisbeck, pastoral associate at Sacred Heart.
Produce can be dropped off during the week, although most arrives on the weekend. “If you want something special, you better get it after daily Mass,” Zech said. It’s rare to have any leftovers after the last weekend Mass, Weisbeck said.
Sharing from the garden is one way the parish expresses unity and builds connections over food, he said. During the preparation of the gifts at every weekend Mass, donations are collected for two local food banks, using the motto “fill the basket.” A different food need is highlighted each week.
The harvest table “was a generous gesture that had an immediate response,” Weisbeck said. “We see it as a way to deepen community through sharing and the love of homegrown food.”