It’s a way to show your faith in action through outreach to the community, and can be combined with other programs and community engagement such as seed-saving and seed-swap events, contributions to your local food bank, hosting local food or 100 mile dinners, or even offering canning or food preparation workshops in your kitchen, using produce from your faith community’s gardens and sharing intergenerational knowledge and skills.
Here are some options, resources, and inspiration:
Raised-bed gardens provide accessibility for children, seniors, those with limited mobility, and others who find it difficult to bend down to do gardening.
Raised-bed gardens also increase visibility and are excellent options for properties with concerns about poor soil quality or compacted earth.
Also consider square-foot gardening for small spaces and high yields.
Multi-generational planting initiatives are a great way to get the whole community involved. Begin with letting people know about your plans, and that part of your faith property will soon be under cultivation.
You may find new sources of volunteers within your congregation or within your community!
If you don’t have space on your faith property, consider having congregation members join an existing community garden as volunteers. School gardens are becoming more common and often need community help during the height of the growing season, when school is out.
Resources to assist your community garden work
Greening Sacred Spaces has developed a free_Edible_Faith_Community_Garden_Guide for faith communities creating a community food garden.
This comprehensive how-to guide includes information on:
- setting up a garden
- forming a volunteer team
- planting a garden, including depth and drainage, organic matter, container gardening, rooftop gardening, tools, and other options
- maintaining a garden – weeding, watering, and pest control tips
- harvesting the garden – picking, monitoring, and chronicling the crop, freezing and fermenting, storing and replenishing soil
- a garden resource list
These resources were developed with support from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
View the video below for inspiration and information on the community garden at Morningside – High Park Presbyterian:
Faith-based Gardening — further resources we recommend:
Get started by attending a workshop in your region or make use of online resources on raised beds, organic growing, and how-to documents.
You can also find advice and resources at www.arocha.ca/communitygardens.
Join a local Community Garden Network or look for opportunities to partner with local schools, seniors’ residences, shelters or food banks to build community.
Interfaith Power and Light in the United States faith garden ideas at www.coolharvest.org.
Their excellent documents “Sow a Cool Harvest – Faith garden ideas for a cool planet” and “Enjoy a Cool Harvest – The food, faith, climate connection” are available as a free download from their website (see the “Free Cool Harvest Kit” option in their order form), with companion DVDs available for sale.
“Sow a Cool Harvest” has information not only on raised bed gardens, worm composters, beneficial insects, heirloom seeds, earth blessings, model gardens, and organic gardening tips, but also alternative ways to get involved if your faith community does not have property or space adequate or appropriate for building your own garden. The document is free and the companion DVD is available from IPL for a reasonable price.
“Enjoy a Cool Harvest” has suggestions for pot-lucks and other meals that can be shared with the earth in mind, with guidelines and ideas for considering carbon footprint, local food security, organic and meatless options. The document includes printable invitations to a “potluck and a movie” and discussion guide to accompany the DVD for “Nourish” (available separately from IPL).
Seeds of Diversity has a website with resources on seed saving, heritage plants, and lists of “Seedy Saturday” seed sales and exchange events.
Evergreen offers funding through several programs for tree-planting, gardening, and native species planting. Their website also has links and databases on native species and community gardens. The Evergreen-Walmart Green Grants provide up to $10 000 for community-based restoration and stewardship initiatives in urban and urbanizing areas, including naturalization, restoration and stewardship, and community food gardens.
Intergenerational learning about healthy soil and organic gardening; here, children learn what good soil is made up of and how composting helps give back to the earth. Later, they plant and pick tasty snacks.
Consider adding soil lessons or container gardening and composting workshops to your Vacation Bible School or summer children’s program.
Photo credits: George Street United, Peterborough; Trinity-Nazarene, Islington United, Morningside-High Park Presbyterian