We’re sharing the stories of ministries in congregations around the diocese, celebrating the incredible work being done on the local level. In this local ministry profile, W Massey of Christ Church, Blaine speaks about their Children’s Giving Garden.
The CEC Children’s Giving Garden supports our community with garden grown produce.
We were in a fortunate position in 2012, to have a sizable group of children of different ages in our children’s ministry. We set out to create an initiative they would all find interesting, engaging, and was long term. The garden idea stemmed from the need to provide a project that would encourage team work and education by deciding what they wanted to grow, starting seeds, prepping the soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting. The objective would be achieved as a group, with varied skill sets and levels as the children met together every week. We also wanted to foster communication, patience, and teamwork within the group. The children brought harvested produce to the altar to be blessed. Displaying harvest through the church service provided the congregation an opportunity to commend their teamwork, applaud their success, and better understand and share in this important ministry.
Our ministry was originally seed starting in Dixie cups. However, in 2013 a parishioner brought in plants that were obtained at no cost, with encouragement to share the produce. We created an area just for those particular plants. The sharing or donating concept was further expanded after a meeting with the local Boys and Girls Club coordinator. They were seeking support for their “Food Nutrition Program,” which we could provide with garden expansion.
The spirit of our origins is always present, with sometimes more and sometimes fewer little hands in the soil, depending on the numbers of children involved. We stay true to our name as children have been the garden inspiration and benefactors, and will continue to be a focal point of support.
We will celebrate our 10 year anniversary in spring 2022! The ministry began in 2012 with a 10 by 10 blessed ground level garden. We have expanded through donations and grants into a garden five times that size. Our current configuration consists of: 12 raised beds, a storage locker, composter, and patio area.
The beautiful layout was designed by a parishioner who is also a talented quilter. Our organist is a craftsman who handmade and donated all of our wooden raised beds. We annually seek donations for necessary financials and materials. We are fortunate to have been sponsored by various local businesses and parishioners. We have received multiple plant sponsorships, a MAC grant from the Bellingham Food Cooperative, and a “Project Neighborly” grant from the Whatcom Community Foundation. TW Landscaping has made many soil donations and our local hardware store crafted, donated, and delivered our storage locker. In 2017, the garden renovation made possible by the “Project Neighborly” grant, was complete. We invited the community into the garden for the first planting, and we celebrated with an Ice Cream Social supported by Edaleen Dairy!
Due to the expansion, and the produce washing and transportation by a lead garden member, our compounded harvest donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Blaine was at 1,110 pounds last count. The garden evolves into different configurations and crops based on forthcoming goals and needs.
It has touched so many… starting with the children, who have experienced the miracle of growing and harvesting through their hands, the parishioner involvement, produce recipients appreciation, and visitors delight in seeing a vegetable garden on church grounds!
However, we have a photo of an older boy in the children’s ministry from years ago; with his smiling face shinning through the green beans he parted… absolutely beaming with joy!
We envision the garden creating more community bridging opportunities through social events.
The children made boutonniere size “arrangements” from our marigold flowers one year. We used the plants as a natural means to keep invaders out. At the seasons end, we gathered and tied 3 inch marigolds together, set them on a beautiful tray to hand out to our congregation as they came into coffee hour. As each parishioner chose their “bouquet,” we observed happiness in abundance from tiny arrangements!
With that in mind, we envision the garden creating direct bridging opportunities between parishioners and our church neighbors, through harvest. This will entail growing event specific produce; a pumpkin patch, along with herbs and flowers to create bouquets and floral wreaths. The event will develop into an opportunity for education and ‘co-gardening,” crafting, garden games, and become a community recognized CEC annual free fall event.
The dream is to create an event that supports and directly builds community through time spent together, sharing the garden bounty!
We are currently in need of volunteers and funding for a necessary garden rejuvenation.
We will remove decaying raised beds, bring in a new soil load, add soil nutrients, and limb holly tree overgrowth, which entails hiring outside labor. We applied for a $400.00 Green Grant to assist with limbing the neighboring holly tree. The tree inhibits growing in a significant portion of the garden, due to dangerous thorned needles.
We want others in the diocese to know that a small garden can create much larger and different outcomes than anticipated!
And perhaps we have not conveyed how much we look forward to creating HAPPINESS!
By bringing the harvest directly to our community – as our friends and neighbors choose their perfect pumpkin, create a custom floral bouquet or wreath, celebrating harvest together on church grounds – through Gods harvest gifts we have the honor to create joy!
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