The Bishop Samuel L. Mackey
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home."
- Matthew 25:35
Established in 2022 | 1543 Summit Avenue, Portsmouth, Va 23704
How We Help Our Community
In a city where 39% of the population resides in food deserts, the impact of the garden's efforts cannot be overstated. It has become a beacon of hope, offering an oasis of fresh, locally grown vegetables in a landscape otherwise devoid of such options.
30 x 50 ft
With the unwavering commitment of a team of dedicated volunteer farm managers, the garden expanded and thrived over the past year and a half. The garden's growing space doubled in size from its humble beginnings, a testament to the love and care poured into its development.
To date, the Bishop Samuel L. Mackey Community Garden has provided over 1,500 servings of fresh vegetables to the people of Portsmouth.The Prince of Peace Church firmly believes that the church must take an active role in reclaiming the community and restoring its well-being, and the garden serves as a tangible manifestation of this conviction.
It All Started With A Need
The Bishop Samuel L. Mackey Community Garden, nestled within the heart of Portsmouth, Virginia, has blossomed into a vibrant symbol of hope and transformation since its establishment in April 2022. This beautiful garden, named after the founder of the Prince of Peace Church, lovingly maintained and cultivated by POPCVA, stands as a testament to the vision and unwavering dedication of Pastor DeAndre Carswell, Brother Michael Gause (garden ministry leader), and Deacon Darryl Williams.
With a profound belief in creating equity and addressing the food security challenges faced by the community, Pastor DeAndre wholeheartedly embraced the garden as a catalyst for positive change. Recognizing that many politicians had seemingly given up on the city, he forged ahead, propelled by a deep sense of responsibility to his congregation and the wider Portsmouth community.
The initial funding for the garden came entirely from generous donations by church members and partners of the Prince of Peace Church. The overwhelming support demonstrated the shared belief in the power of this initiative to make a difference in people's lives. It became clear that the garden's purpose extended far beyond merely providing sustenance—it was also a means to promote physical activity, improve mental and physical health, foster mindfulness, and cultivate a sense of community.
From the beginning, the community eagerly embraced the garden, with various members stepping forward to tend to its needs spontaneously. The guiding principle was always clear: the vision for the garden did not belong to any individual or group but to a higher power. As stewards of this vision, the Prince of Peace Church members understood their role was to nurture it, foster growth, and share its abundant harvest with those in need.
Portsmouth, a city grappling with the weight of poverty, found solace and sustenance in the Bishop Samuel L. Mackey Community Garden. Recognizing the dire need for fresh, healthy food options, the garden joined forces with the Black Church Food Security Network—a coalition committed to addressing food disparities within African American communities. Together, they tackled the challenge of providing nutritious produce to the marginalized residents of Portsmouth.