On our way to a farm this past weekend to buy apples, we drove by a church. What caught my eye about the church, was the vegetable garden growing on its grounds. A sign in front of the church had also caught my eye. The sign was advertising a drive by food pantry.
I began thinking about a friend of mine who is growing a garden with friends, with everyone being able to share in the bounty. She sends me updates on how much it is producing and the mouthwatering things she is making from the fruits of their labor.
My mind starting wondering what the church did with the harvest from its garden. Was the garden a community garden for the parishioners? Was someone leasing the space as income for the church? Or maybe, was the church growing the vegetable garden to provide fresh healthy vegetables to the people using the food pantry?
I’m hoping it was the latter. I’m hoping the congregation is growing the garden as a community bonding moment (masks and social distancing being a given). I’m also hoping they are involving the youth as well as a teachable moment showing how we get our food and how to grow a sustainable garden themselves.
If it is the latter, with the congregants tending the garden for the benefit of others, my mind then wandered to all of our places of worship (Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples, Kingdom Halls, and the many others) across the country, sitting on large plots of grassy knolls and showcasing absolutely gorgeous flower gardens. What if all of these churches turned all of this land, and transformed their showcase gardens, into fruit and vegetable gardens, growing food for those in need living within their communities?
What a difference it would make to those families living with food scarcity! What a difference it would make to the congregants in practicing the teachings of Christ! What a difference it would make in society if thousands of churches were modeling the love of one another!
Taking it a step further, churches could offer classes, seeds, and seedlings to families living in food scarcity to then provide a little bit of food for themselves. Follow the whole philosophy of teaching people to fish, rather than just giving them fish. As families provide a little food for themselves, there would also be a feeling of pride, thus raising their sense of self-value. When people feel successful and a sense of achievement, it also gives them a sense of empowerment.
Maybe, just maybe, we could improve our national sense of community and empowerment through the small act of gardening, decrease food scarcity, and improve peoples health. All by taking a little bit of a churches land and turning it into a garden.
Could the simple act of gardening, sharing, and community action move our country toward being a better, nicer, and more empathetic civil society?