by Roger Oliver
This past Sunday, Aug 23rd, Bonnie Strittmater credited me for having started a garden by myself at All Saints and for providing tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and yellow squash for the food pantry. She elaborated to express how excited the Food Pantry guests were about getting fresh vegetables.
I had not expected to be, and it is not important that I was, recognized. Although it may have seemed to be my secret, many at All Saints knew I had put a few plants in the ground very late. So, now that I have tested to see if anything would grow and if Food Pantry guests would want any produce, I think it is important that I provide a little background.
Hopefully many of you will recall during the Happy Hearts – Hopeful Future Debt Reduction Campaign last Fall, I had called attention to the many blessings All Saints possesses. Among the ones I mentioned were the Charter members who experienced the challenges of not having a building and worshipping in a few locations, then the challenges of building (and maintaining) the first All Saints structure. (I believe the Plank and Toft families are the only remaining active charter members.) I recognized the blessing of Lois Frye bequest which supplemented regular giving for several years. I recognized the blessing of the savings account (which as of last year no longer exists) created by many no longer worshipping here, but it helped All Saints continue its ministry over the past few years. Finally, I recognized the blessing of the very nice current All Saints facility, and the blessing of those who planned and provided the down payment for it. Although the debt on this facility is a liability to our annual budget (and hence the purpose of the HHHF campaign,) the facility offers a tremendous potential for ministry.
But, about February this winter, it occurred to me that there was at least one blessing I had failed to acknowledge during the HHHF campaign drive, and that was the sizable amount of land All Saints possessed. I talked with Pastor Clark, and over the course of several weeks, the Council and a few other people about a community garden. My vision was to create a process which embodied the concept: “If you give people a fish, they eat for a day; if you teach people to fish, they eat for a lifetime.”
In addition to this past spring being very rainy with few planting opportunities, my vision was still only a vision with no implementation plan; and, All Saints people were already spread very thin supporting the ministries we already had. Therefore, I was reluctant to make a plea for help with one more ministry. Additionally, when I shared the concept with some, the response was “great, we have too much grass to mow anyway.” (From this gardener’s perspective, anyone who digs up an established lawn and plants a garden with the expectation they will reduce their overall time commitment, has probably never planted or cared for a garden!!)
But, one day in July (too late, and too wet, for a real garden), I found a few garden plants on sale, dug up weeds in the muddy soil and put the few plants in the ground. Note, I did not dig up any established lawn. In a phrase we “gray hairs” recognize; now you have “the rest of the story.”
If anyone has experience with (or would like to tackle) planning and managing a community garden, a teaching garden or anything other than “putting a few plants in the ground,” I would love to help you. Now is the time to plan for 2016!