Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Church Garden

Filling the truck at a time when we were all in motion...

Yesterday morning (Memorial Day) was a busy and rewarding time for me.  I spent it shoveling dirt.  First we put it in the truck at the Natick Community Organic Farm and then drove it over to the church to place it in the new raised beds we have been constructing on the front lawn.  The basic goal for us is to plant some vegetables.  Right now various Sunday School kids are harboring pepper plants, tomato plants and broccoli in their homes.  All of that will go in to the beds with some room to spare.  The rest of the space is still being discussed.  I am all for some herbs and maybe something that climbs, like peas or beans...

This photo is courtesy of Chris Lindquist and shows the extent to which we went all "Yankee" on the bed construction.  Yeah...we used pegs...

Growing vegetables, of course, is only part of our objective.  After all, many of us already have our own gardens and others buy their produce during the summer through either Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, at the farm market, or at the NCOF farm stand.  Last year I did all three of these things while also volunteering for the farm.  There is a post somewhere.  I will link to it.

Another of Chris' photos showing the work on the first day.

Our other goals for the garden are more spiritual.  This little garden is a chance for us to create a visible, living symbol of our own commitment to try to live closer to creation.  We talk about this in church a lot.  The 'burbs have many things going for them, but all this structure, infrastructure, people, and attendant landscaping serves to separate us from the actual process of growing things and of growing ourselves.  This garden is a reminder that we, too, come from the earth.  We will, of course, return to the earth some day as well.  It helps us to witness the changing of the seasons and reminds us of the miracles that come out of even the tiniest packages.

I think it is interesting that most of the volunteers who have taken part in this project either have worked or currently work on farms.  Farming is heavy labor, of course, and it helps to know that up front.  However, I think part of the reason we were drawn to it was that we do, in fact, miss that connection to the natural world that gardens bring.  In our world of cars and computers it is important to remember that we are not our stuff.  We are living things that need to be part of the big organic mass of life. 

Dirt turns out to be heavy and time consuming...

Another great thing about this visible symbol is that it sends this message both to those of us who attend and worship at Eliot and to those people who do not.  Our garden tells folks that we are less worried about looking perfect and quaint in our little "New England Meeting House" than we are about living out the faith preached in that house on Sunday mornings.  Spirituality is not an ornament.  It is lived and experienced in a real place with real joys and real problems.  As such, a garden at a church stakes out a position in society.

Food is a hot and complex issue that we are all thinking about these days.  Some folks seem to have a great deal of it while others don't seem to have any.  Some cultivation techniques give back to the earth and others subtract from it.  The market is both local and global.  Everyone--whether they know they are or not--is making a political and spiritual stand when they seek to feed themselves.  The Eliot Church garden--like the Eliot Church--is above all else local and organic.  However--again like the church--it makes a global statement about where we put our values.

One of the beds...finally ready!

I have written about gardens before.  In fact they have their own section! Feel free to browse...

Finally a special thank you goes out to the folks at NCOF for their great dirt!

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