By Lauren Anderson
The city of Lockhart, Texas, isn’t known as an ideal environment for citrus, but two trees at Emmanuel Church consistently produce delicious ruby red grapefruit and help pay for parish ministries.
A parishioner planted the two trees 15 years ago between Emmanuel’s nave and its parish hall.
“The fact that they do so well is a miracle in and of itself,” parishioner Liz McGinty said.
During especially good harvests in the past few years, the parish has sold grapefruit at an annual library festival to raise money for various causes.
This year, the grapefruit ripened later than usual and, with the threat of impending freezing temperatures, Emmanuel’s senior warden called on the church to help pick the particularly abundant batch of grapefruit immediately after a Sunday-morning service. That morning, the congregation harvested more than 1,000 grapefruit.
Although the batch was too late to sell at the library festival, the church sold them at Lockhart’s weekly market of locally grown food, bringing significantly more business than previous years. The “locally grown” label attracted many customers, who were surprised to see grapefruit grown in Lockhart. The quality of the Emmanuel’s grapefruit won over many customers.
“We would put out slices for people to try and so many people would say, ‘I don’t eat grapefruit,’” McGinty said. “We would say, ‘Just try it.’ And they really liked it. We sold to a lot of people who said they don’t eat grapefruit. Some came back the next week saying they didn’t get enough.”
Over two Saturdays at the market, the church raised $200 for each of the church’s three causes: Cause for Paws, an organization that promotes humane animal treatment and provides spay and neuter services; scholarships for college and trade-school students; and scholarships to send young children to Camp Capers in the Diocese of West Texas.
McGinty says the grapefruit sale helped Emmanuel’s volunteers tell customers about the parish’s involvement in the community, as well as how they would use the profits from the grapefruit sale.
“A lot of people would say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know y’all did all that,’” McGinty said. “We have certainly become better known in the community because we do this.”
The abundant harvest allowed the church to send boxes of grapefruit to the Lockhart Food Pantry, the San Marcos Food Pantry, and the San Marcos Southside Center, which provides food for the homeless.
After this year’s success, the church plans to return to the local market next year, and to try again for the library festival, providing the two trees produce a batch in a more timely matter.
Image: The courtyard at Emmanuel Church, Lockhart, Texas