When you’re planting a garden that is based on faith, you’re following the same principles that church planters have followed since the time of Jesus. By planting seeds, you eventually get fruit (or vegetables) to grow.
To have the seeds sprout, you must carefully tend to the soil. If the conditions aren’t right, then the seeds stay dormant. When you do get it right, something incredible happens. Life springs forth from the ground.
For as the soul makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11)
With the space found at many churches, there is an opportunity being missed. Community gardens are a way to bring people together, offer core spiritual teachings, and provide food to those who need it.
You nourish the mind, body, and soul all at the same time.
8 Steps to Take When Creating a Community Garden
The first step of creation begins when you bring people together who love gardening. Bring together your congregation, parishioners, and worshippers to discuss the project. Develop a neighborhood community garden by inviting neighbors. Start your own with your family and friends. Anyone who is interested should be welcomed with open arms.
Then you must create your planning committee. Building a community garden is hard work and requires an extensive time commitment. Choose people who are passionate about gardening and have the time to make the project grow.
It is a good idea to have some committees created to be responsible for specific tasks in the project too. Use task categories such as design, construction, and seed acquisition.
Then you’ll be ready to follow these additional steps.
#1. Find Your Resources
If your church or spiritual community is building a new community garden, then the resources will come from within. You may find that others want to get involved with the project once they realize it is happening. There may be a community club of master gardeners, landscapers willing to donate time, and others who will provide unique resources which will make the garden thrive.
#2. Choose Your Site
A community garden must be located in a place where it can receive at least 6 hours of sunshine each day. You must have water availability present. It is a good idea to test the quality of the soil before planting to know if anything needs to be added to it. For churches thinking about adding a community garden, a review of the liability insurance policy is a good idea too.
#3. Raise Money (Optional)
If you do need to raise money for your community garden, there are several ways you can go about doing it.
- Create sponsorships for the garden.
- Host a community bake sale.
- Have a spaghetti dinner or a pancake breakfast.
- Ask for designated gifts through the church.
- Run a car wash in the parking lot.
There are startup costs and ongoing costs that must be considered when creating a faith-based community garden. With a strong budget in place, it becomes easier to complete the remaining steps necessary to create this space.
#4. Prepare the Garden
Once you’ve chosen the site for the new garden, you’re ready to prepare the area. You’ll need to clean up the area, till the soil, and begin to arrange your plots. If you’re converting an area of lawn, then rent a sod cutter to make your life easier. Remove any trash, clear lingering vegetation, and then finish your final prep work.
#5. Finish Your Design
When the soil is ready, you’ll need your committees to determine how to organize the space. You’ll need to determine the number of plots you want to be available. There should be a formal process on how plots are assigned. It is a good idea to put all the rules the garden will need in writing to eliminate any confusion or disputes which may arise later on.
#6. Guard the Garden
Fencing is a critical component of a community garden. You’re not trying to keep people out of it. You’re trying to preserve the fruits and vegetables that everyone plans to grow. There are several ways to add fencing, from basic string and wires to a formal chain-link fence. It all depends on what you feel is necessary to protect this investment.
If you have deer in the area, you’ll want to invest into a deer-proof barricade to protect the garden.
#7. Get the Kids Involved
Children love to garden. Getting dirty and doing something productive is a win/win situation for them. It is important to get them involved with the various tasks your garden requires early on. You might even think about designing a specific plot that is tended by the children of your members. That way, they can have fun gardening while they work at their own pace.
#8. Plan the Harvest
Once planted, your community garden will be on a journey which eventually leads to a harvest. Knowing how that harvest will be handled before it happens will be to everyone’s advantage. Even people with the best intentions may take something grown in another plot without thinking about what they are doing. You may wish to publish rules about harvesting plots or have some type of supervision available for the season to prevent disputes.
Gardening and Faith Have Always Been Linked
In the beginning, God placed humanity within the confines of a garden. When Jesus spoke to people, He often spoke using metaphors that involved gardening. In Matthew 20, he even mentions that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
When we come together as a community to garden with one another, we all get to experience the gift of life. This aspect of creation never gets old.
There is a practical side to a community garden as well. People tend to care more for the spaces where they have a personal investment. Keeping the garden at the church will help to strengthen the spiritual bonds people have with their community and personal faith.