Grow food. Give it away.
This is the mission God has called upon our small group: To provide the materials and labor to start gardens; grow corn, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, black-eyed peas, and so many more crops; share with one another and give it away.
That was the vision God laid on my heart last year while observing my friend, Camp’s, garden in his back yard. As I witnessed the over-abundance of produce, it took me back to when I was younger, having my own garden, and harvesting so much produce I couldn’t give it away. That’s when I first shared with him the idea of what we now call a “community garden.” Since then, the idea has grown, literally!
These community gardens are a developing story of God’s faithfulness. From old hobbies of gardening, to the renewing of that passion at the Hand’s backyard garden, God was “planting His seed”. Now, over the last year, God has comprised a group of guys who are passionate about serving others, hardworking, surprisingly knowledgeable, and have said “yes” to His challenge before us. We have been excited having both high school and college students, adults, retirees, and even children join us in this mission.
The purpose is to create community by having people from every facet of life working alongside one another and then in turn sharing the fruits of their labor with one another and surrounding neighbors. It is our prayer and goal that no vegetable goes to waste and that God will open the door for us to share with those that need it most and then invite them to partner with us. By providing a practical need of food, we seek the garden to become a means for loving others – no agenda, strings attached, or expectations. It’s sharing the love of Christ – inviting them into our lives and investing in theirs.
So far, we have planted three gardens throughout Auburn, Opelika, and Beauregard, totaling nearly 5,000 square feet and already seeing God’s work. We are very thankful for the home and land owners for allowing us to dig up their yards and invade their space but expectant to what God has in store for each of them. As we move forward, here are a few of the important attributes we are continuing to seek:
1. Multiplication – it is our dream that year after year more gardens will be worked and the ripple effects will be exponential as more and more neighborhoods and families take hold of the vision.
2. Self-sustaining – we are working now on creating a plan to sell some of the produce locally in order to generate income so that the mission is not just sustainable, but more importantly self-sustaining.
3. Community – we pray the gardens will produce new relationships and in return have an impact on the communities in which we live.
So, as the corn and okra begin to sprout, next Saturday, April 27, we will be planting our final garden for this summer in downtown Opelika at The Railyard on the corner of 1st Avenue and 9th Street. This central location is the perfect illustration of our vision, and we are so thankful for God’s faithfulness. We will spend the day transforming an old, overgrown urban lot into a dozen large raised planters.
If you are interested in starting your own community garden or getting to know your neighbors, we invite you to come alongside and join us in this mission. If you have questions or need assistance getting started, please feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can follow what’s happening on our blog.