Thursday, September 9, 2010

Unexpected Fruit from Long Dormant Seeds

Seeds can lay dormant for long periods and still germinate into fruitful plants. They get covered up with too much soil and remain inactive, but something brings them to the surface and they sprout and produce, sometimes decades after they fell to the ground.

About five years ago I experienced something that illustrates the same dynamic with God's work. In the mid-1800's an illustrator made etchings of Bible scenes that were collected in a book published after his death. I stumbled upon a copy, but it sat in my basement for months until I showed it to my then three year old daughter. The illustration of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter from the dead caught her attention and I was able to use it to tell her about Jesus' power and love. See Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56. That stuck her, and for a long time after that whenever we looked at her children's Bible she wanted to go right to the part where "Jesus made that little girl feel better."

That shows how God can produce fruit in ways beyond our understanding. He used a seed sown in the mid-nineteenth century to produce fruit early in the twenty-first century. All that occurred long after the etching was made, the artist was gone, and the world had changed in ways the artist couldn’t have possibly imagined. And that etching only had that effect because of the actions of others the artist had no control over (the editor and publisher of the posthumous book, its distributors, whoever owned the book before me, and me).

The point is that God is able to use our good works to far more effect than we can possibly imagine—if we use what He gives us in the first place.


Adapted from Gardening for God.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Preliminary Work

Our mission is to grow vegetables for hunger relief programs, so you’d think that that most of what we do is working with plants and distributing produce. We do a lot of that, but there is other work that is equally essential to accomplishing what God wants from this garden. We craft garden plans to make the most of the space He’s given us. We set up irrigation systems, put down plastic mulch, and install fencing to keep critters away from the crops. We write grants to have the resources we need. That shows that there’s more to ministry than meets the eye; it usually doesn’t happen unless other things happen first.

That reality is reflected in scripture, particularly in the lives of Joseph and Daniel. God had important tasks for both men. Joseph was to provide for God’s people during a time of severe famine. Daniel was to take care of later generations of those people by, among other things, influencing the foreign leaders God had placed over them. They were only in a position to do those things because they first faithfully performed other, more mundane, tasks. Joseph was only in a position to provide for Israel because he first did a good job managing a prison. Genesis 39: 22-23, 40:1-6, 41:9-16. Daniel was able to influence those leaders because he had a record of irreproachably discharging his secular duties. Daniel 1:19-20, 6:2-5.

The examples of Joseph and Daniel are not the only places where scripture reflects that principle. Colossians 3:23 instructs that “whatever your work is, put your heart into it as done for the Lord.” (New Jerusalem Bible, emphasis added). 1 Peter 4:11 similarly teaches that “if anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides so that in all things God may be praised.” (NIV). The same principle underlies Sirach 11:20. The point is clear: We have to take care of business in order to take care of the people God calls us to serve.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What we can learn from our okra: we are blessed so we can yield blessings





Although our okra is strong and productive now, it didn’t start out that way. It required a LOT of attention earlier in the season. The seeds needed soaked before we planted them. The young plants were in danger of being overwhelmed by the spring crops they were interplanted with, requiring us to repeatedly trim those spring crops. The same was true with weeds, requiring us to put down newspaper/straw mulch. Then there was side dressing and thinning. Okra was definitely a high maintenance crop during May and June.


We did all that work for a reason—we knew that the okra would bear much fruit later. It is a steady producer (averaging 30 Lbs. a week so far this year), and the plants themselves are pleasing to the eye. We were therefore willing to give it extra attention at the outset.


The same dynamic occurs between individual Christians and God—He invests much in us early in our relationship with Him so we can bear fruit later. Think about it. Your early months/years walking with the Lord were probably filled with graces, blessings, and a sense of His presence that seem extraordinary in hindsight. That dynamic underlies Jesus’ parable of the patch and the wine skin. Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:33-39. It is also displayed, on a corporate level, in the book of Acts; God lavished extraordinary blessings on the very early church. Acts 2:43-47, 4:32-35, 5:12-21, 12:1-18.

Scripture makes it clear that there is a reason for those great early blessings: to prepare us to bear fruit later. Isaiah 5:1-7 speaks to that dynamic, explaining how God richly blessed Israel so that it would bear the fruits of justice and righteousness. Isaiah 5:1-2 describe how God built “a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine … then He expected it to produce good grapes” (emphasis added). Jesus taught the principle; it is implicit in the parable of the barren fig tree set out in Luke 13:6-9 and is the basis for the parable of the vine. John 15:1-11. The principle is unmistakable: God blesses us so that we can yield blessing.


There is also an unmistakable corollary to that principle: extraordinary blessings will be withdrawn if we don’t bear fruit. Isaiah 5:3-7 describe how God took away His special blessings from Israel when it didn’t produce the fruit He expected. The property owner Jesus describes in the parable of the barren fig tree threatens to cut the tree down if it doesn’t produce, offering a rationale any gardener can understand: “It is taking up space we can use for something else.” Luke 13:7 (NLT). John 15:2 describes similar consequences for the failure to bear fruit. Perhaps that’s what James was referring to when he wrote that “faith … if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Glenn DeMott: Community Gardener of the Year!


Every year the Franklin Park Conservatory's Growing to Green Program makes awards to honor outstanding gardens and gardeners in Central Ohio. Tonight our own Glenn DeMott was recognized as the 2010 Community Gardener of the Year. Here's why:

Glenn’s contribution to our garden’s goals

We have two goals for this year: to increase the quantity and quality of food we produce for hunger relief programs and to involve more people in our garden. Glenn has been instrumental in helping us accomplish both.

He singlehandedly brought about a significant increase in the quantity and variety of our produce. Glenn dramatically increased the size of our spring crop, taking it from 200 Lbs. last year to 1,618.9 Lbs. this year—an 800% increase! He also expanded the range of produce that made up that crop. Last spring we only grew mustard greens and turnips. Glenn expanded that by introducing many new crops: peas, onions, beets, radishes, kohlrabi, spinach, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, and lettuce. All of that was Glenn’s doinghe pushed us to do a spring crop when some us didn’t want to, he expanded the range of vegetables grown, and he did the lion’s share of the work to get the crop planted, nurtured and harvested. His initiative and effort resulted in hunger programs receiving a lot of fresh produce at a time when it is generally unavailable (May and early June).

Glenn has also been successful in involving new people in our garden. Quantitatively, he has exponentially increased the number of core volunteers. We went from a group of 5 regulars last year to approximately about 20 this year. Qualitatively, he has increased the diversity of our group. We went from a homogeneous group of middle aged gardeners to a group that now includes young moms, school children, and retirees. Glenn brought those new faces into our garden and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Glenn’s unique focus on the “least among us” has intensified our impact

Glenn has made two unique contributions that have fine tuned our overall effort to serve the “least among us.” See Matthew 25:40.

The first is his focus on prison ministry. He has made a point of directing a portion of our produce to Harbor on the Hill, a ministry that helps ex-offenders grow into productive lives by helping them immediately after they’re released from prison. Glenn’s focus on that ministry helped feed folks that few others would give the time of day.

The second is his attention to children. He has made real efforts to get kids involved in our garden. He started a spin off garden for our church’s pre-school program, involved children from our vacation Bible school in our main garden, and brought junior high school students into help plant our spring crops.

Glenn helped us meet the challenges of relocating and expanding our garden

Our major challenge this year was relocating and expanding our garden. The land we previously gardened was sold, so we had to start from scratch at a new site. Further, we had significant “growing pains” because our new garden is twice the size of our old garden, and expansion brought its own issues. Glenn helped us meet those challenges in two ways.

First, he has devoted an incredible amount of time to the garden. That started last winter when he researched new techniques and crops, including many of the new spring crops discussed above. It continued through the spring as he recruited and worked with volunteers to do the hard work of getting our new beds in place and cleaned up. Since then he has spent countless hours thinning, watering, weeding, and harvesting our crops—most of which he planted! No other volunteer has put more time into our garden.

The second is in his generosity. He purchased seeds, tomato cages, and stakes for us. He has lent us many invaluable tools, everything from seed planters to tillers.

We simply couldn’t have accomplished all that we have without Glenn’s contributions of time and resources.

The specific impacts of Glenn’s contributions

There have been two specific sets of impacts from Glenn’s work this year, one tangible and intangible.

The tangible impacts are what we’ve been able to produce. So far this year we’ve generated 4,167.93 Lbs. of produce for hunger programs—That’s 192% more than we produced at this time last year. That has benefited homeless individuals fed by the Faith Mission, families served by Lutheran Social Services’ food pantries, ex-offenders trying to get on their feet through Harbor on the Hill, and Somali refugees served by the Hilliard Summer Lunch program. More than half of that food came from Glenn’s spring crop, he has been indispensable in producing our summer crop, and he is already planning our fall crop. Glenn is responsible for feeding a lot of people.

The intangible impact is on the “community” part of our community garden. Although we were pretty good at gardening, we weren’t too successful in building community before Glenn got involved. He changed that by bringing in many new folks, as discussed above. But beyond the raw numbers, he has really gotten the new people engaged. More than one has commented on how Glenn’s patient instruction helped them get into this new activity. That wouldn’t have happened without Glenn.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Garden Hose as a Metaphor for the Productive Christian Life: Solutions to Those Problems (part 4 of 4)


Fortunately, there are remedies, and better yet preventives, for all the problems discussed in the previous post.

Clogs can be unplugged, and avoided, through regular prayer and time in God’s Word. Those disciplines improve our connection to God, the essential spigot, which in turn increases our spiritual water pressure. And regular time with God tends to keep us out of the dirt that might otherwise clog us. See Proverbs 2; Sirach 14:20-15:6; Hebrews 4:12-16; Philippians 4:6-7; James 1:2-5; 2 Timothy 3:14-17.  

Those same fundamentals—prayer and scripture—also undo kinks. They show us where we should be and inspire us to get there, helping realign us with God so He flows through all parts of our lives. Indeed, that increased spiritual water pressure actually helps push into proper alignment with Him. See James 1:25

We can dramatically increase our usefulness by connecting with other believers. Our overall capacity is exponentially increased and areas we could not reach on our own can be quite easily covered if we connect with our brothers and sisters in Christ. See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We can also significantly boost our effectiveness by focusing what God gives us (time, energy, skills, and talents) on the tasks He’s given us. Just as the same amount of water has much greater impact when forced through a nozzle, we are much more powerful when we allow God to channel us into a particular task. We do that by getting rid of the extraneous. For example, cutting back on media alone can have amazing impact, removing distractions and outright corruption. See Proverbs 4:25; Sirach 3:21-23; Sirach 11:20; Sirach 51:30; Luke 9:62; Proverbs 10:5.   

Finally, we have to let God’s living water flow through us. Hoses are meant to pass water onto where it is needed, not to store it. Let water sit in a hose without release and the hose will rot. We are the same way. God blesses us so we can bless others. Holding onto things God gives us to give to others will not only deprive the intended recipients, but will rot us as well. We must instead pass God’s blessings on by sharing His Gospel and giving to others. See Luke 12:16-21; Sirach 11:19-20; Proverbs 11:26; Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 16:9.



Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Garden Hose as a Metaphor for the Productive Christian Life: Problems That Limit Our Effectiveness (part 3 of 4)

Any one who’s ever used a garden hose knows it can be less than effective, even if it’s hooked up to the spigot and pointed where water is needed. It can clog with dirt, reducing and polluting the water that flows through it. Segments can out of alignment with the spigot and kink, drastically diminishing the amount of water going beyond the kink. It can be too short to reach where the water is needed. It can lack the force needed to accomplish the intended task without a nozzle. Or it can rot if water is allowed to sit in the hose, rather than pass through it.

Similar problems can beset us. Sin can clog us if we lack spiritual water pressure and let our selves get into the dirt. We develop kinks when parts of our lives are out of alignment with God. We can come up short, failing to reach the areas God wants watered, if we try to do His work on our own because we are too proud, or shy, to ask others for help. We can have only a portion of the force God intends if we lack a focused flow. Or we can simply decay by keeping the things God intends to flow through us, in us, rather than allowing them to pass onto others.

Taked from Images from God

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Garden Hose as a Metaphor for the Productive Christian Life: Connection to The Source (part 2 of 4)

Another thing we can learn we can learn from a garden hose is that we can’t accomplish what God calls us to do apart from Him, no matter how hard we try.

Just as it is impossible for a hose to perform its function if it's not hooked up to a spigot, no one can fulfill God’s plan without being connected to God and His living water. We can try with all our might, but our efforts will have no lasting value if we don’t access that source. We’ll just be like a hose apart from a spigot—hollow, dry, and useless.

Taken from Images from God

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Garden Hose as a Metaphor for the Productive Christian Life: Serving Our True Purpose (part 1 of 4)

What can Christians learn from a garden hose? Quite a bit.

As we’ll see in this and each of the three following posts, we can learn about the importance of serving our true purpose, the importance of staying connected to God, some of the problems that can limit our effectiveness for God, and some solutions to those problems.

First of all, a hose shows us how important it is to use our lives for the purpose God intended. A hose can be used for other things besides moving water, but the results will be substandard. For example, a hose can be used like a rope to bind something, but the knot won’t last and the hose will likely be damaged in the process. Used for its intended purpose, that same hose can successfully accomplish many things, from watering a garden to washing a car—and do so far more effectively than it could tie something together. It is a simply a waste to use a hose for any other purpose.

The same is true of people. God has specific a purpose for each of us and we are each specially designed for our particular purpose. Both the ultimate value and immediate quality of our lives are directly related to how closely we follow His plan. We can accomplish wonderful things if we direct our energies to what He intends, but will be next to worthless, and unhappy, if we do not. The lesson is clear—we and others are blessed if we follow God’s call and hurt if we don’t.


Taken From Images from God

Monday, July 26, 2010

What We Can Learn about Discipline From Tomato Cages




Tomatoes and peppers that are caged or staked are more productive than those that are not. Absent that support, they tend to grow crooked, sprawl out, or flop over onto the ground. That’s not great.

That changes if you add the discipline of a cage or a stake. Although that is more trouble in the short run, it is well worth it. Staked/caged plants grow more vigorously, perhaps because more of their leaves receive sunlight. They produce more fruit per square foot because they take up less space. The fruit they produce is healthier because it is off the ground and hence less susceptible to rot. The bottom line is that the external discipline of a cage or a stake does a world of good. That’s why we’ve been soliciting tomato cages and are so grateful for those we’ve received.

The same dynamic is applies to people. Left to ourselves, we’re not nearly as fruitful as we can be, for a variety of reasons. But that changes if we accept discipline; we become healthier and more productive. In a word, more fruitful. That’s why scripture repeatedly stresses the importance of accepting discipline ourselves, imposing loving discipline on our kids, and the consequences of not doing those things. See Job 5:17; Proverbs 3:11-12, 6:23b, 12:1, 13:1, 13:18, 13:24, 15:5, 15:32, 19:20, 22:15, 23:12, 23:13, 29:15; Sirach 7:23, 30:2, 7-13; I Timothy 4:7b; II Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 12:11; II Peter 1:5-6; Revelation 3:19.


Monday, July 19, 2010

What Can We Learn From Our Tomato Plants?


Looking at how vibrant our tomato plants are now, it’s hard to believe how sickly they were in mid-May. The transformation has been tremendous—they went from barely hanging on to being the picture of fruitful vitality. How did that happen? What can we learn from it? At least five things.

First, they were transformed because they took in things that they lacked. Those plants were undernourished, so we placed bone and blood meal in the soil where they were planted. They thrived because they took that in.

It’s the same way with us. Scripture tells us that we’re deficient in our own, natural, state. John 13:8, Romans 3:23. We therefore need something beyond ourselves—from God—if we are to grow into the healthy, fruitful, people He wants us to be. See Proverbs 2:6, Wisdom 8:21, Sirach 1:1. We have to accept that reality—and those things—to grow.

Second, those plants had to go to the extra nutrients. Those nutrients were mixed into the surrounding soil; the plants had to extend their roots beyond their original balls to get to them. They never would have become vital if they hadn’t moved beyond their original condition.

That’s also true of us. Jesus tells us that we have to make affirmative effort to grow into what He wants from us, that we must make the affirmative effort of going after what God has for us. Matthew 7:7-8, Matthew 11:28, Mark 8:34-35. Those directions are in line with what is said in the Old Testament. Proverbs 2:4-5, Proverbs 4:5,7, Sirach 14:22-27. Although real change is impossible without God’s grace, it also impossible unless we move towards Him.

Third, they had to incorporate those nutrients into all aspects of their being. Those plants are healthy now because they absorbed those nutrients into their very substance: their stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit. They wouldn’t have thrived if those nutrients never went beyond their roots.

Once again, the same is true of us. Scripture study, Bible memorization, and teaching do little good if we don’t incorporate what we learn from them into our day-to-day lives. We have to apply scriptural principles in all aspects of our lives—in our work, in our stewardship, in our family and social interaction— to become as fruitful as God wants us to be. That’s why the Bible says that we must be “doers of the Word.” James 1:22. See also Matthew 7:24-27.

Fourth, their current fruitfulness was the result of many small, subtle, changes made over time. They weren’t transformed over night. Instead, their current fruitfulness was the result of a series of small changes that were mostly imperceptible as they were made. They had to expand their roots and strengthen their stems. That happened a little bit at a time, a few millimeters each day. That incremental growth was not obvious, but each increment was essential to their reaching their current levels of fruitfulness.

Our fruitfulness comes about the same way. It is the result of innumerable small changes. One day we decide to implement some scriptural principle by giving up some little activity, thought, etc. that’s not terrible, but that’s also not terribly productive. Another day we put God’s word into practice by doing something positive that it teaches. Most of those changes do not seem very significant at the time, but they each lay the groundwork for increased fruitfulness, and their cumulative effect can be amazing. The scriptural principle that accumulation little by little is the way to riches, Proverbs 13:11, applies to more than finances.

Fifth, the result of all those things is an enhancement of what those plants are, not their transformation into something else. They became very healthy tomato plants, not eggplants, squash, or peppers. All the things discussed above didn’t change their basic nature; it just brought out the best in that nature.

The same usually occurs when we apply God’s principles to lives. He usually doesn’t change our basic nature. Instead, He makes us a much better version of what He’s always intended us to be.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wise Counsel


Scripture makes it clear that that we benefit greatly when we listen to the advice of others. Proverbs 11:14 sums it up nicely: “in an abundance of counselors there is victory.” See also, Proverbs 1:5, 12:15, 13:10, 15:22, 19:20, 20:18, 24:6, 27:9. The reality of that principle came home to me in two ways as I was working in the garden this past weekend.

The first is quantitative. We’ve harvested a little more than a ton of produce this year, but the bulk of that wouldn’t have existed if we hadn’t listened to the counsel of one of our core folks, Glenn Demott. He pushed hard for a spring crop, but I resisted because I thought we couldn’t do one and get everything else done that was necessary to set up the new garden. Glenn eventually talked me into it, and am I glad he did. The spring crops accounted for 1,357.75 pounds of what we’ve been blessed to harvest. The result is that a lot more people have been fed.

The second is qualitative. Another area of the garden plan I resisted was peppers. I was convinced that they were a waste of space, but others persisted in advocating for them, and we agreed to do put some in. Regardless of their production (which has been amazing), they have generated some real beauty, as evidenced by the picture set out above. That beauty only exists because wise counsel was heeded.

Monday, July 5, 2010

We're Growing a Ton of Vegetables!

We've harvested 2,082.75 Lbs of fresh produce so far this year. This past week we harvested 618.1 Lbs., one of our best weeks ever.

To put that in perspective, last year we didn't break the ton mark until mid-September.

GOD HAS BEEN VERY GOOD TO US!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Gardener's Prayer

Father, conform me to Your garden plan so that I am used to the fullest, with no wasted space, to produce what You want. Your plan is perfect; help me to remember and accept that, even if I don’t understand the details.

Give me all I need to produce the crops You want. Help me to use those things to the fullest, with no waste.

Help me to yield exactly the crop You want, precisely the quality and quantity You are looking for. Help me generate fruit so pleasing that You can't help but smile.

Protect me from anything that would interfere with that result; keep those things away from me but, if I must be exposed to them, cleanse and heal me from their adverse effects.

Give me patience to get through the times when You want me to develop roots, stems, and leaves instead of fruit, and during the times I need to lay fallow.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Taken from Gardening for God

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More about Rain

As discussed in a previous post, God’s interventions in our life are a lot like rain: they provide fruitfulness and hence are to be savored. How else are they like rain?

Just as rain comes in small, individual, drops that provide a cumulative result, God usually acts in a series of small ways that add up. If we are listening, God speaks to us here and there about ordinary things; how to handle seemingly mundane matters, how to interact with the people we come in contact/have relationships with, what choices to make amongst options. If we consistently listen for—and to—His voice in the midst of our daily lives we will see a big difference over time.

Further, rain varies in intensity and so do God’s interventions. Sometimes He sprinkles; we get a little nudge from the Holy Spirit in the midst of our day-to-day activities. Sometimes He really pours; God speaks clearly and directly, perhaps through a message at a worship service, through a godly advisor, or through a passage of scripture. Sometimes His interventions take the form of answers to prayer. We need to be on the lookout for them in all their forms.

Also like rain, God’s interventions vary in frequency. Some seasons are rainier than others; we go through stretches when God seems more communicative than other times. Conversely, there are times when we don’t seem to hear as much from Him. God moves on His own schedule, so we must adapt to Him. That’s why it’s important to be well rooted in Him, it helps us through those dry spells.

Finally, we need to avoid things that interfere with our receiving the benefit of His actions. Rain runs off compacted soil, but is absorbed by loose loam; we can learn from that by eliminating things that make it harder to appreciate God’s directions, things like pride, distractions, and preconceptions.


Taken from Gardening for God

Harvest Figures




God has been very good to us!

He's given us 1,464.65 Lbs. of produce so far this year. To put that in perspective, this time las year we had harvested 236.46 Lbs.


We've distributed 48.2% of that through the Lutheran Social Services Food Pantries, 23.8% of it through Hilltop Lutheran Church, 14.5% through the Faith Mission, 10.6% through the Hilliard summer lunch program, and 2.9% through the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Appreciating Rain

Now that the garden is in I find myself paying a lot more attention to rain. Outside the gardening season I’m indifferent to it. But once spring arrived it became a focus. At first, rain was a concern because we needed it to get our newly planted seeds to germinate. Now it’s important to help our plants grow and bear fruit. The result is that I pay a lot of attention to weather forecasts, considering whether and when it will rain and how much rain is expected. I am also much more appreciative of rain when it comes; in fact, I almost savor it.
***
It strikes me that we should have the same focus on God’s interventions into our lives, things like His promptings and blessings and the insights He gives us. Like rain, they don’t happen every day, but they are beneficial when they do. They germinate new areas of productivity. They are essential to growing and sustaining fruitfulness where He’s already planted us. Without them we become dry and stagnant, and eventually whither. This analogy it hardly original; it is presented in multiple passages of scripture. See Deuteronomy 32:1-2; Psalm 72:6; Isaiah 45:5-8 and 55:10-11; Hosea 6:3; James 5:7-8. See also Psalms 63:1 and 143:6-8. The bottom line is that we should eagerly look for those interventions and appreciate them when they occur.


Adapted from Gardening for God

Feeding Jesus

How would you respond if Jesus asked you for a meal? His suffering saved you. His providence sustains you. How could you turn Him down? “Wait a minute,” you ask, “doesn’t the idea of feeding Jesus have it backward? After all he feeds us.”

Actually, He did more than ask; He told us to feed Him. In Mathew 25:31-46 He explained that we feed Him when we feed the hungry, that we turn away from Him when we turn away from them, and that there are consequences for how we respond to that truth. As He put it, “whatever you [do] for the least of these brothers of mine, you [do] for me.” v. 40, NIV.

So what’s on the menu? What will you serve Jesus? Will it be fast food, leftovers, or the freshest and best? The answer is obvious, but how do you do that?

One way is to help grow vegetables for the hungry in the Mill Run Community Garden. Our mission is to provide fresh produce to supplement the processed food distributed by hunger relief programs. Our crops feed folks in Hilliard, on the Hilltop, and in the central city via Faith Mission. Last year we were able to give them—and hence Jesus—more than 3,000 Lbs. of fresh produce. The need is even greater now, we’re increasing our efforts, and we need your help. Here’s how:

Pray. Ask God to help us through the process of enlarging His garden, to help us increase the quality and quantity of His crops, and to help us do it ways that best show His love.

Volunteer. To borrow a phrase from the Gospel, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” We’ll need help planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, and delivering God’s crops. Contact Kelly Hern at 371-8331 or phern@columbus.rr.com or Glen Demott at 326-0940 or gdemott@columbus.rr.com if you or your SALT group can help.

Donate. We’ll need hay, tomato plants, tomato cages, and tomato stakes. We will also gratefully accept monetary donations to help us purchase those and other supplies. Contact Kelly Hern at 371-8331 about donating those items or Dave Bowersox at dbowersox@ualc.org, about monetary donations.

So how about it, will you help us feed Jesus? Matthew 25:34, Proverbs 19:17, and our own experience tell that you’ll be greatly blessed if you do.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tomato Cages Needed

We need 200+ tomato cages. Please drop any you can spare off at the garden.

Thanks!

Spring crop harvest report: almost 1,000 Lbs. so far!

God has blessed us w/ a very good spring crop. The results so far are 958.6 Lbs., broken down as follows:

Crop....................................... Pounds
Greens ..............................................650.0
Turnips............................................. 228.9
Spinach ...............................................44.4
Radishes ..............................................32.9
Onions................................................... 2.4

They were distributed as follows:

Recipient................................. Pounds
LSS food Pantries................................ 611.5
Hilltop Lutheran................................. 216.5
Faith Mission....................................... 90.0
Unknown............................................. 24.0
Mid Ohio Food Bank............................. 16.0

All in all this is very impressive. Last year our entire spring crop was 200 Lbs., and we still have a lot of spring crops left in the ground, so God has been exceedingly kind to us this year.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Plan

Here's what we're trying to accomplish this growing season:
MEMORANDUM

From: Todd Marti & Glen Demott

To: Gardening Group

Date: April 3, 2010

Re: Garden plan for 2010

________________________________________________________________________

This memorandum sets out our proposal for the 2010 UALC community garden. Section I discusses the allocation of space within the garden, Section II discusses harvesting and distribution of the crops, section III sets out a time line for accomplishing the tasks involved, and section IV discusses the resources needed. The Appendix to this memo lays out the use of the beds in the New Garden that we suggest.

We have not discussed the children’s garden. That’s not because it won’t be part of this year’s garden, but because we understand that Kelly and Carol will be designing and managing that part of the garden.

We want to stress that this is only our proposal. The garden belongs to all of us, so we should all agree on whatever plan we come up with. However, we are already into the gardening season itself, so we need to settle on a plan as soon as possible.


I. Allocation of space.

We view the garden as consisting of two areas. The first is the new garden immediately to the South of the Mill Run Church building (“New Garden”). Other is all of the area we have been gardening for the last two years, to the east of the parking lot (“Old Garden”). This section discusses both gardens.

A. The New Garden.

This garden consists of 28 4 foot x 50 foot beds and a yet unplanned set of additional beds along its south side that will be set aside for a children’s garden.

We suggest that we produce three crops in the New Garden. In order to make that suggestion understandable, we need to explain how those beds are allocated. Our proposal for using the beds is set out in chart attached as the Appendix to this memorandum. It will be helpful to have that in front of you as you read this.

The spring crop would mostly in the eight beds that Glen will manage (beds 1 through 8), and several, not many, of the other beds. We anticipate planting some mix of turnips, beets, and greens in those beds. As discussed below, these crops will be supplemented by the spring crops we suggest be planted in the Old Garden.

The summer crops will be primarily produced in beds 9 through 26. They will largely consist of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peppers, and okra. Those beds (except those containing the okra) will be irrigated with soaker hoses and covered with black plastic. The beds with okra will also be irrigated with soaker hoses, but will be mulched with newspaper and straw instead of plastic. We’d like to get all those beds prepared by early May, and actually plant the crops in mid-May.

We also anticipate summer crops in beds 1 through 8, the beds that Glen will be managing. Some will be follow on crops after the spring crops grown there are harvested, and some will be planted in Mid may in space not occupied by spring crops. The details of this have not yet been worked out.

It is worth noting that the summer crops in the New Garden may be supplemented by similar crops in the Old Garden if it remains available through the summer.

We anticipate most of the fall crops being in beds 17 through 23, the beds the squash and zucchini will be in from May though mid-August. Those beds would be used to grown greens and/or turnips. We anticipate planting them in mid-August, and those crops being ready harvest in late September or early October. These crops may be supplemented by fall crops in the Old Garden if it remains available.

B. The Old Garden.
This part of the plan has a fair amount of uncertainty in it because we don’t know how far into the growing season the Old Garden will remain available. We do know that we’ll be able to do a spring crop, but beyond that the rest of this part of the plan is conjecture.

We suggest a spring crop of turnips and beets in the rows we tilled in the east end of the Old Garden last fall. We anticipate planting those rows during the April 13 work day for the folks from the Wellington School. Those crops would be ready for harvest sometime in early June.

If we will have access to the land through the rest of the growing season, we propose that those rows be replanted with some sort of fast maturing summer crop, perhaps zucchini or yellow squash. That would be replaced by a fall crop of greens after the squash/zucchini have stooped producing.

II. Harvesting and Distribution.


One thing we learned last year is the large amount of time involved in harvesting and distributing the crops. We need to do it on a more regular basis and have help from beyond our core group. Several points need improvement.

First, we need to be more systematic about harvesting, doing it on the same days each week. Once the summer crops really start producing (probably around July 1), we should harvest twice a week, perhaps on Tuesdays and Saturdays. If at all possible, we should get them to wherever they’re going the next day (if not the same day). We also need to be meticulous about weighing and logging what we produce and where it goes.

Second, we need to designate folks within our core group that will take responsibility for recruiting and coordinating harvesting volunteers and the ac tual delivery of the crops once they are harvested. Kelly and Glen are perhaps the best candidates for this. Perhaps they could recruit SALT & Renewal groups as pools of volunteers, in addition to whatever individuals are recruited.

Third, we need a place to store the crops between the time they are harvested and delivered. One option would be to harvest in the evening, load the crops directly into the vehicle they’ll be delivered in, and the deliver first thing in the morning. Another would be to store them in the inside loading dock area of the Mill Run Church, although this would require that we get them out of there and delivered the first thing the next morning.

III. Timeline

Here are the tasks we would need to complete to execute this plan, and the dates we need to get them done by:

April 13 Spring crops planted in the Old Garden.

April 17 Matt completes the rest of the beds.

May 15 Beds 9 through 26 ready for planting, water hook up installed, fence completed.

May 15-22 Summer crops planted in beds 9 through 26, start watering weekly as needed

June 1-30 Recruit and organize harvesting volunteers.

June 15 Spring crops off Old Garden, start planting summer crops if the land is available.
Side dress crops in beds 9 through 26

June 30 Start harvesting from beds 9 through 26 at least weekly.

Aug. 1 Squash/Zucchini out of beds 17-24

August 15 Fall crops planted in beds 17-24.

Oct. 31 Prepare beds for next year.

IV. Resources needed

Here’s what we’ll need to execute this plan, exclusive of what we’ll need for the children’s garden and the beds that Glen will be managing:

Tiller*
Additional rails & corner posts for fence
Gate materials for fence
Rabbit fencing**
Blood meal*
Turnip seeds**
Mustard green seeds**
1,400 feet of soaker hose**
3,600 feet of black plastic
10-10-10 fertilizer*
Okra seeds
32 zucchini plants
32 squash plants
100 pepper plants
200 tomato plants
200 tomato cages**
Straw for Okra rows in New Garden, between rows in the old Garden.
Newspapers for Okra rows in New Garden, between rows in the old Garden.
Scale
Boxes for harvesting

* Materials already on hand/available
** Materials partially on hand