It all started with a seed of imagination. During our winter’s Visioning process someone put the idea out for a Community Garden on the South lawn of the Church.
As the weeks went by and some other ideas got pushed to the back burner, this one simple idea germinated. It seemed to my metaphorical mind, the perfect image of what we’d been talking about.
How can the Church share it’s unutilized space with our Neighbours? What do we value as church people, that our unchurched neighbours also value? What projects could we share in common?
A Community Garden would represent, in a small way, what we’re talking about in a big way. Peterborough just happens to be a very Green city and it wasn’t hard to find support for this idea.
Peterborough Green-Up, had initiated and staffed the Community Garden Network several years ago. Jill Bishop had coincidentally already booked the Church auditorium for their annual “Seedy Sunday” seed exchange. It was so great to see the church filled with people of all walks unified by their revolutionary desire to grow things. We made some good connections that day.
We’re not just taking Daisies and Perennials here. Food is a serious political issue in this city. The City Health Department has taken a lead role in making food a community issue organizing a Food Network of 50 local agencies and citizens.
While Transition Town Peterborough gets us ready for a world without oil, the politics of food distribution and food security is not just an issue for discussion. There is a lively effort to put in place grassroots alternatives to the mega-corporate farming model. While that model gives us cheap vegies year-round, the environmental costs of bringing them in from the far points of the globe is – do I have to say it? - UNSUSTAINABLE.
So, a small community garden on the south lawn of a downtown church is not simply a good place for a few folks to grow some vegies. It is a symbolic and prophetic act like Jeremiah going and buying up an a field about to be lost to the conquering Babylonians (see Jeremiah chpt 32:42).
While our food distribution has been conquered by a wasteful corporate empire, these small acts of community are examples of a prophetic - perhaps still long away - hope for all of God’s people to once again have food enough to go round.
And so, Jill put out some posters inviting folks to a meeting. People from the neighbourhood showed up. People from the church showed up. It was curious to see them lined up on different sides of the room that first meeting. Our group was started then, and a plan was created the second meeting. On May 22nd it all happened.
The Outreach cmte. invested about $800 of the congregation’s offerings in lumber and soil. Volunteers brought tools and offered their time. It was all coordinated by our Student Intern from Fleming College, Tim Kearns.
From the seed of our collective imagination, it took root. Neighbourhood and Church people together built the raised beds and filled them with dirt. On May 24th they’ll decide who gets what space and how they’re going to organize the upkeep.
I’ve got visions of chili sauce being bottled in the church kitchen next fall. Others I know have visions of drunken vandals splattering those tomatoes against the stained glass. How it all works out? Lord knows.
What I know is that something called community happened on May 22nd. It was a sacred act and a beautiful, holy thing to be part of. Now we’ll see what grows.
"How can we picture God's kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It's like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it." Mark 4:30