In last week’s e-series, we shared how Christ Church, Millwood’s, food pantry started as a seed in a small closet of the parish office to a program with multiple branches extending into a summer feeding program and community garden. This week’s story shows how literal seeds have been planted to begin a new ministry with the help of a Mustard Seed Grant.
The Rev. Sara-Scott Wingo, Rector of Emmanuel, Brook Hill, conveys in the church’s monthly newsletter that she could tell many stories about their new community garden. She shared one touching story in particular:
One story is of children getting off the school bus on the last day of school and the first thing they do in their first moment of summer freedom is run over to Emmanuel to see if there are any ripe watermelons because a few weeks before they had helped plant them. They call excitedly through the fence to a woman tending to her plot, “Are the watermelons ready yet?” She calls back, “Not yet, but do you want to come and check on them?” “Yes,” they exclaim. “Well come on through the gate.” And the children do, knowing they belong on this common ground. Then they ask, “When will they grow?” “Oh, it will be a while, but why don’t you speak to the melons and tell them to grow?” the woman encourages. With that the children start chanting and calling to the melons, “Grow, grow, grow!”
Emmanuel, Brook Hill’s, Faith Garden became a reality after many years of discussion on how to develop the large, sprawling field next to their parish. In 2014, the vestry took action and planned a 55’ x 60’, 12-plot community garden to bring together the congregation, neighbors and community.
Since receiving funds from their Outreach Special Fund, a private donation and a 2015 Mustard Seed Grant of $2,585, they have tilled the ground, laid mulch and planted seeds. As written in the grant application, the local outreach project has four goals. The first goal is to provide parishioners, the community, surrounding neighbors and others interested the opportunity and location to raise their own food and food for others. The second is to promote a sense of community among those coming to Emmanuel, as well as to surrounding neighbors and local food pantry customers. The third is to give children and youth a unique outdoor setting in which to be involved. And the fourth is to encourage good health through learning to grow food.
“Shared moments, shared ground, shared food, shared joy. I hope there will never be a time that I pass our abundant garden and do not think of God’s goodness and generosity. I hope we all find chances everyday to find joy in sharing what God gives us,” wrote the Rev. Sara-Scott Wingo.
“Now it is July and we are reaping the benefits of our labor. Two of Emmanuel’s plots are designated as a give-away garden and a children’s garden. Parishioners and neighbors tend the other ten. Ninety pounds of fresh vegetables have been donated to the county food pantry, LAMB’s Basket. We have also given to elderly neighbors and families with children,” Marilyn Malone, the Chair of the Outreach Commission, explained.
“The Field of Our Dreams Faith Garden is a thing of beauty and nourishment, bringing together people of all ages in a common space to grow food for ourselves and others.”
By: Ashley Cameron; Photos submitted by Emmanuel Church