Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gardeners in you midst? Pay attention!

It's January.  It's cold!  It's rather blah outside.  Those of us from the north country refer to this as Cabin Fever season.  This is also the time when gardeners start thinking about and planning for the gardens that they will be putting in come spring!  Gardeners in general, are a hopeful lot!

What does gardening have to do with church and mission?  Stay with me and I'll explain!

Do you have gardeners in your congregation?  Do you have some open ground outside the church?  If you do, you have an opportunity to do something good in your community!

Back in 1995, the Garden Writer's Association started a program called "Plant a Row for the Hungry."  You can find the background information here.  The idea is simple.  Individual gardeners plant a little extra so the food can be donated to local food banks in their area.  The program has been highly successful and some churches have already participated in this endeavor!

So I would like to suggest two options to you for a way that your church can make this part of their mission to the community.

Option 1:  Encourage you garden growing members to add an extra row at home and bring in their extra produce to be donated to your local foodshelf or to individuals in your congregation who could use the extra food.

Option 2:  If you have some extra space around your church building, why not offer plots to individuals in your community so they can grow their own garden!  This is otherwise known as a community garden.  Here is a link with more information on Community Gardens

Or you could always do option 3, which would be a combination of the above 2 options!

Why do this?  Well, hunger is real.  Even in your local community.  This is a way to have an impact on a local problem.  And if you offer a space for a community garden you are helping individuals to connect with others in the community and you are empowering them to do something good for themselves and their community.

For those of you who don't garden let me try to explain the appeal of gardening.  Gardening, for me personally, is very therapeutic.  It gets me outside, connects me with nature-whether it is listening to the birds sing or watching the clouds-there is something very peaceful about a garden!  Pulling weeds and seeing the physical progress of plants brings about a feeling of accomplishment!  Besides that, I grow food for my family that is healthy and my husband is able to share our bounty with his friends at work who live in the city and do not have an opportunity to grow their own fresh produce.  It is also a great way to teach children about where food comes from and the fact that anything good takes diligent, patient work!

There is also beauty in flowers-their color, their texture, the way they smell.  Bees busily gathering pollen or hummingbirds gracefully sipping nectar, they are amazing to watch!  And birds love sunflowers!  Gardening and bird watching go naturally hand in hand for me!  Gardening is a lot of hard work but it is enjoyable and the rewards are immeasurable!  Some of the most profound insights about life have come to me while working in the garden!

I know that the idea may seem overwhelming to some but consider the possibilities before you reject the idea outright!  What if someone doesn't maintain their garden plot?  How much will your water bill go up?  What kind of wear and tear will it put on the property?  Believe me, I have heard the objections!  But, your congregation has an opportunity to make a real impact, if you are willing to pursue the idea.

Pray about it.  Discuss it and see if this might be a new way to do mission in 2012.  Consider it as a new way to "bear fruit" in your community!  And didn't Jesus call us to "feed his sheep?"  Sometimes you need to feed physically in order to feed spiritually.  Think about it!  How does your garden grow?

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