Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Building a Community Garden

Building a Community Garden by Dana Carrier God’s grace comes in many flavors – as I was able to witness first hand in the last few weeks. It started as a series of dreams: Marie Weir, a master-gardener in training, had a desire placed on her heart to help non-profits to establish new community gardens. Mary Campbell, from the First United Methodist Church wanted to provide a grant to sponsor a community garden in the kudzu-covered lot beside the Albert T Mills Enrichment Center. And Pastor Rosa Arnold wanted to teach 65+ preschoolers where food comes from and how it grows (something that many of those that grow up in the projects have never experienced). So in a wink, many doors were opened, many plans were made, errands run – and a dream became a reality.
Marie worked countless hours planning what would be needed to build and sustain a new garden. Mary Campbell then put this budget forward for approval, and began to line up volunteers for the hard work ahead. The garden creation date was scheduled for Saturday, April 28. So much to do! Marie worked closely with the Albert T Mills Enrichment Center Board, particularly our efficiency expert (and Board Secretary) Lara Reedick to move the plans forward (with my help also). We reached out to the Atlanta Community Food Bank who sent us Fred Conrad – our friendly plow master – who arrived Monday morning and began the transformation. He mowed down all the kudzu and other miscellaneous weeds, and tilled the soil for our garden plot.
Then the race was on to line up the Lowes delivery, select the plants, and enlist volunteers. Lara set up Signup-Genie to track all those interested, and Mary Campbell connected us to her colleague, Forrest Cate, who rallied the troops. Their very active youth group was eager to help, as well as a dozen volunteers from friends, neighbors, and Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. On Saturday morning, God gave us a beautiful day. It was all hands on deck – the level of hard work, commitment, and heart for service was truly impressive to watch. The teens from First United Methodist Church know how to work! They cleared all the weeds and debris surrounding the garden, and we anxiously awaited our delivery truck. Once our materials were unloaded, the collaborative frenzy began. Everyone had a job – building the raised bed frames, mixing the soil and nutrients, filling the raised beds, surrounding the garden with a mesh fence, and planting the seeds and seedlings of corn, squash, beans, peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon and lots of tomatoes! I was touched by how well everyone worked together. I loved the faces of the kids who learned to drill screws into wooden frames, and thinking of the young hands gently placing plants in the ground to feed those they may never meet.
New friends were made, and a general celebration of God’s goodness and bounty rippled through the many volunteers. So now the hard part begins! We need to water, tend and steward the new garden to produce the bounty it is meant to produce - much like our daily lives. God gives us the raw materials and help (when we ask), and we sometimes forget how the small things we do touch lives and produce fruit in ways we never imagine. We just have to remember to be good stewards of what is given us, which God then multiplies for his purpose. We are truly blessed when we remember to turn our faces to the sun and drink in His bounty. As for me – it was an experience I will never forget! I was honored to be a part of such a giving and loving team that put God’s work first.
FYI – we are now looking for volunteers to help us maintain our garden, and help us to cover the maintenance expenses to feed, tend, water and harvest the garden for the next few months. If you like to get dirty, we can add you to our maintenance schedule. If you have never worked in a garden before, we can give you hands-on training. Or if you prefer to stay clean and would rather pull out your checkbook, we would appreciate your support and sponsorship. To reach us, please visit our website at

1 comment:

  1. Love it! You all are always in my prayers!. Love d