“Is there a purpose for that piece of ground behind our church?”
That was the question the new pastor, Mark Johnson, asked of the Outreach committee of the Miller, SD UMC in 2012. The committee agreed it was “just there.”
“Well, how about making it into a community garden?” questioned Pastor Mark.
All the pros and cons were discussed and all doubts put aside while the committee voted to start a community garden. A subcommittee of gardeners was formed. They wrote up rules for prospective gardeners to follow. They also filled out a grant application which provided $500 for the project.
Two men from town donated their time and equipment to plow and till the ground. A farm business also donated soil-testing services. Church youth picked off rocks, raked and smoothed it.
Gene Norton, the most helpful and eager gardener, measured the ground, divided it into mostly 10’ x 30’ plots, made a map and readied the sign-up process for gardening enthusiasts. Gene and a group from the local Presbyterian church planted sweet corn in a larger left-over area, with plans to have a communal meal featuring… sweet corn.
Our new community garden has been a success. In 2013 we had 12 people with gardens, and this year they numbered 18. Our gardeners include young mothers teaching and feeding their children, retired folks who still love to dig in the dirt, people who live in apartments and the children from the after-school program, learning how their food is grown.
Whatever time of day you might go to tend your garden, there will be another neighbor there to commune with. Walkers, joggers and bicyclists often stop to see, “how does your garden grow?” Our garden has truly proven to be a place of fellowship and community.
So, does your church have a purpose for all of the lawn surrounding it? If not, maybe God has a purpose for it that you have not yet imagined. Pray about the possibilities of a community garden and listen for where the Lord might lead you!
JoAnn Testerman, Chair
Miller UMC Outreach committee