By Nathan Hosler and Jeff Boshart
As this time of year rolls around, we begin witnessing the appearance of new life, both the new life Jesus Christ gives us all through the miracle of Easter resurrection, and the new life we see in our environment as we move into Spring. This second kind of growth starts in the south and gradually moves north until, even after all the snow and cold, we once again start seeing new blooms and fruits.
Last week’s Newsline included an article from our southern brothers and sisters in Falfurrias, Texas, telling about how they had already been working in the garden and the beautiful flowers they had just picked. A little further north in Washington, D.C., at the Office of Public Witness, we are beginning to see signs of new life emerging, while even further north, a grandparent in Canada just had more snow! While many folk are already deep into their planting, some of us are just going to the garden, while others are still only making plans.
The Going to the Garden initiative seeks to build off this common desire to get into the garden to grow fresh produce for our families and neighbors. Through the Going to the Garden initiative, grants are given to congregations to start or expand community based gardens so that we can mutually support one another in seeking to follow Jesus as he goes into the world to minister. Some congregations are following Jesus by going to their garden to address needs of hunger, poverty, and caring for God’s Creation.
So far, more than 20 congregations have received grants of up to $1,000 each through the Going to the Garden initiative of the Global Food Crisis Fund and Office of Public Witness. Some churches such as Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren were starting their gardens from scratch, but had the idea before the creation of Going to the Garden. In Annville, the garden emerged (not without sweat) on part of a lot that was being used by a local farmer. While there were several people who were the main contributors, many church members began to contribute and donate supplies such as large plastic containers to help hold water for use at the garden. In fact, so much was donated that the grant money stretched much farther than they expected.
Grants are still available. So, whether you are already in the garden or just making plans, we would love to hear about and help support your ministry. Please contact Nathan Hosler at the Office of Public Witness, firstname.lastname@example.org , if you would like to explore how we may be able to work together with your congregation.
Find out more and download an application form from www.brethren.org/peace/going-to-the-garden.html where there is video link and a map of all the gardening projects supported by the initiative. More stories from gardens and gardeners are at the Facebook page “Going to the Garden.”
— Nathan Hosler is coordinator of the Office of Public Witness for the Church of the Brethren. Jeff Boshart is manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund.