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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In the gardens: Congregations get growing

Borage (Photo by Yummifruitbat)
Coming to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses is one thing – joining together with a congregation to insure that the dew will also be on the lettuce and tomatoes is quite another.  Both experiences can certainly result in an enhanced spirituality.

According to Debra Rubin of Religion News Service (RNS), congregants from churches and synagogues throughout the United States are trying the latter approach.  Fruits and vegetables are being raised for "soup kitchens and food pantries in what are often called food justice programs" (or "mitzvah gardens").

Chicago's KAM Isaiah Israel synagogue not only has gardens within its own yard, but also helps two neighborhood churches to do the same.  Volunteers had originally "ripped out" much of KAM's lawn in order to create a Star of David shaped vegetable garden "with produce grown in each 30-square-foot point." Robert Nevel, KAM's social justice coordinator, wisely points out:  The synagogue doesn't own that land, the church doesn't own that land, no one really owns it; we need to be stewards of the land.

Nan Onest - Pastoral Associate at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Cedar Lake, Indiana – would certainly agree with Nevel.  She refers to land and gardens as "God's creations" and notes that congregational food programs are good ways of modeling fair land usage and food distribution practices.  Onest's  number of gardening volunteers has almost tripled within a short time.  These volunteers include a vibrant mix of congregants plus members of the community at large.


Copyright May 22, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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