Members of St. Francis Xavier Church in New Milford recently made their first delivery of fresh produce to the Loaves and Fishes Hospitality House in town.

The produce was the first harvest from the church's newly established social outreach garden.

The garden was conceived by St. Francis parishioners, who completed an intensive 30-week course exploring the concepts of social justice.

During the course, a guest speaker from the Social Services Department presented information on the needs of the clients of the local food bank and soup kitchen.

Concerned that the most needy in the community often lack access to fresh fruit and vegetables, the group proposed its social outreach initiative, culminating in a parishwide effort to create a garden to serve marginalized citizens.

The garden was officially blessed May 20.

Parishioners quickly donated plants, seeds, fertilizer and fencing.

The newly formed Garden Ministry members volunteer their time to plant, water and tend the garden, which is currently producing tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, broccoli, basil, squash, collard greens and zucchini.

In the two weeks since harvesting began, members of St. Francis have picked and donated more than 90 pounds of fresh vegetables to Loaves and Fishes.