2-7-09: Front Veggie Garden Planted

I’ve taken on a new community project that I am really excited about. It was mentioned at church a few months ago that our conference is pushing for facilities to become more “green.” Considering our church was built nearly 100 years ago, the windows leak, the roof could certainly use solar panels and we could probably do a better job of recycling. One thing we do have going for us is a lot of land and grandfathered water rights via regular irrigation.

When the community garden idea was mentioned, I jumped. I formed a committee of local folks I thought would be interested in having a stake — including a refugee organization nearby that is looking for land for their clients to use, a hunger organization trying to find new methods of helping those in need and a local Green Guru who I’ve admired from afar for many years. We are quickly making progress. This weekend we decided after surveying the land to start with a citrus orchard, and transplant several date palms shooting from the mama, which came from a seed brought back by a congregant who’d visited Israel. This week I’m making tree cut-outs to sell after service Sunday. For $25, anyone interested can buy a citrus tree for the orchard. They can come to help plant them in the next couple of weeks and eventually help pick the fruit — if they are interested. Or, they can just give a bit of  “seed money” to help support the project.

Eventually, the garden will also include a dozen 3’x4′ plots that we’ll divy among refugee families, community members and anyone from the church who wants to garden too. The fruit from the orchard, which will eventually include peach and fig trees too, and the vegetables from the church plots will, in theory, be given to hungry families in the congregation and the area. This church sits in a not-so-ideal section of town, so hunger is an issue — especially for produce.

I’ve been talking/planning/dreaming of a large space to garden for years. While the opportunity to buy a larger home for just such a reason hasn’t yet presented itself, this incredible stroke of luck has. In the process, we’ll get to know those who live near the church, introduce refugees and congregants and hopefully get some good, organic and nutritious food to those who need it most. If you live in the Phoenix area and are interested in getting involved, the more the merrier! We’d love to have your support and your elbow grease to see this grassy lot turn into something much more beautiful.

Happily, I’ll be posting the progress as we plant these seeds!