The Village Project's Garden Angels

Sherri Reilly, center, with her "Garden Angels" and their harvest that day from the Bay Village Community Garden. Photo by Jennifer Hartzell

The Village Project in Bay Village is an organization dedicated to feeding people who are battling cancer. The Village Project delivers healthy meals to patients and their families twice a week, and serves the communities of Bay Village, Westlake, Rocky River, Avon and Avon Lake. Meals are delivered to patients’ homes and consist of high quality and nutritional food; they never include processed sugar, white flour or red meat. The mission of the Village Project is to provide support to families while their lives are consumed with fighting cancer, along with providing cancer patients highly nutritional food so that their bodies are as strong as possible to fight the disease.

During the spring, summer and fall months, the Village Project tends to eight plots at the Bay Village Community Garden. The majority of the fresh vegetables used in meals during the summer months come from the garden. The garden leader, who is in charge of the eight plots, is Sherri Reilly. She has been volunteering with the Village Project for six years as garden leader. She coordinates volunteers to help water and harvest the crops. Every Monday and Wednesday, she has a group of children that come to help her and whom she calls her “Garden Angels.”

Each Monday and Wednesday during the summer and through the fall, children of all ages arrive at the community garden to help water and harvest the vegetables. I was able to visit last month and see the children at work. Some were carrying around large watering cans, others were picking vegetables, and a few were decorating vases that will be filled with fresh flowers picked from the garden and delivered along with meals to clients.

While they are there, children learn about the gardening process from start to finish. In the spring they help plant the seeds. All summer long they water the plots, and help harvest the bounty of the vegetables they planted. In the fall, Sherri teaches them how to harvest the seeds from the plants, which are saved to plant again the following spring. Some of the vegetables they grow are beets, peas, beans, tomatoes, chard, kale, and plenty of herbs.

All of the food that comes from the garden is organic, offering the highest level of nutrition for clients of the Village Project. Children are not only learning a love of gardening with Sherri, they are simultaneously helping local families who are in the midst of fighting cancer.

In my opinion, this is an extraordinary opportunity for children. While they learn about helping and serving others, they are learning about gardening and the outdoors while developing a love for the environment. They are learning that healthy food takes hard work and the right weather. Some summers are better for vegetables than others. They are learning to get their hands dirty working, and seeing the product of their hard work.

While I was visiting, a couple of the boys said they had picked a bunch of the green beans that were ready, but that they had eaten them! Another bonus to helping with this project is they are learning to love and eat fresh vegetables too, which nourishes their own bodies! To foster such a love of the outdoors and of taking care of plants, all while helping local families, is an exceptional opportunity and Sherri Reilly is behind it all. If you are interested in helping Sherri, please email her at

If you have or know of a local project that you would like me to write about, please email me at I would love to highlight more activities and programs in our community that help others foster a love of the outdoors and our environment.

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Volume 9, Issue 17, Posted 9:45 AM, 09.06.2017