Why to Start a Garden at Your Church

If you read the Austin American Statesman article and then were interested enough to log on here, I hope it is because you want to start a garden at your church. And the first thing you might ask yourself is -why? What’s the point? What’s in it for us? Good (and the last one a little selfish, but honest) questions! This is why I think you need a garden at your church –

Here is a list of questions to which the answer is unequivocally YES- Are there hungry people in Austin (or your town/city)? Are there homeless there? Did Christ say that what we do to the least of us, we do to him? Are we called to love our neighbors as ourselves?

So, the above things being known and true, what are are we to do about it? I think probably many things can be done and if we all bent our minds, hearts and effort into it we would bring Christ love to this City in a powerful way. A garden at your church is one way and it is a way that I can tell you how to do. A garden at your church will provide some of the best nutrition (local, organic vegetables) to the people who need it most. It is simple and it works. You build a garden, grow food, give that food to those in need who then eat said food and are less hungry and more nourished.

There are also benefits to your church from growing a garden. Working in a garden together builds community and fellowship; having a garden outside your church makes a strong statement about who you are as a church and how you feel about the greater community – more so than that bermuda grass and a crepe myrtle I know you have out there currently does.

Not sold yet? Here are some common FAQ or FMS (frequently made statements)

  • Wouldn’t it be more effective to just collect money and buy food and give that to the needy?
    • Yes. If collecting money and / or buying groceries is your passion, get on it. There is a lot of good to be done out there.
  • I don’t want to give the needy food, I want to teach them to grow their own.
    • Well, I can’t agree with the first part, but I like the second. Check out Genesis Gardens for one program teaching the formerly homeless to garden. You can join in and we could use more programs like it. Again, get on it.
  • Aren’t vegetable gardens ugly? I like our lawn.
    • Au contraire mon frere. You can make them ugly if you want. They can also be wonders of landscape design. You can show the neighbors that a garden can look good and do good.
  • I actually don’t like and want to work with most of the other members of the church.
    • You might if you spent some time really working hard for something good side by side! You might not, too. Either way, you’ll know for sure after sweating with them for a bit.
  • If I work in the garden for those in need, but they aren’t there to see it, am I still doing good?
    • Wow. That is, like, profound. Yes, if you do good and no one knows, it is still good. (I quit seminary before even starting, but I think that is a theologically sound statement. Or at least basically so.)
  • Is it just me or are these questions getting more and more sarcastic and insensitive?
    • Yes, it is just you.

Now, I am not claiming a garden at your church will end hunger in Austin (but one at every church might? I don’t know, there is some work for a statistician there). What I am claiming is that a garden at your church would do this: feed the hungry, bring Christ love to this city, build community within your church and tell the community around your church something good about your church. That is pretty good return on investment from a couple of seeds and some sweat.