St John’s Community Garden Experience

The St. John’s community garden, with its 18 ft by 4 ft raised beds, lures people to our grounds, much like the bees, birds and butterflies who come by to take nourishment from the flowers and vegetation.  Most of our visitors are neighbors, with no connection to the church, other than living near our property.This observation led us to realize that we should expand ourmission to include our neighbors, part of our community, to participate in our garden.

Working with input from Urban Harvest, with whom we are affiliated, we decided to open membership to interested people in our neighborhood.  Within a short period of time, our group added 7 neighbors, and we now keep a waiting list.  We also changed from an ‘allotment model’ to a mixed allotment and donation model.  This means each gardener has his or her own bed (allotment), with the harvest going to friends and family.  In addition, we share the work of planting and harvesting by having one or more donation beds, with the produce lovingly given to the Braes Interfaith Ministries (BIM) Food Pantry on a regular basis.

How does the garden benefit our church?  The beautiful spot of ground provides a place for church members and casual visitors to commune with nature and each other.  In our current situation, I often talk with visitors.  People regularly approach me to share how much they enjoy visiting, either to relax for a few moments,or to spark a child’s interest in the wonders of nature. They love seeing the gigantic sunflowers and towering okra, abundant varieties of tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, field peas, pole beans and pollinators visiting the brightly colored flowers. They share memories of their own gardening experiences from long ago or admit that they have no experience at all.  Many describe a sense of peace and healing as they find themselves praying or meditating amid seasonal cycles of the garden.  

Our enterprise clearly benefits our gardeners.  We chat regularlythrough our texting group, asking questions, receiving advice, reporting on problems seen, encouraging each other, sharing recipes, offering to help when needed, and praising each otherwhen something special is happening.  We are truly creating community.  Our gardeners tell me how much they appreciate participating in our donations to BIM, and they spread the word with their friends.

Interested in participating in the St. John’s Community Garden?

If you want to learn more about becoming a gardener in the St John’s Community Garden, you can use this link to contact one of our garden coordinators. Kay Swint and Mary Gaber are coordinators of the garden project.  One of them will talk with you to help you understand what is involved.  We welcome your interest.