Green Church Building Blocks
Beach Lake United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania has successfully started an organic community garden on church grounds. They have shared the secrets to their success and helped develop these building blocks to establishing a community garden in the hopes of inspiring others to exercise their green thumbs.
1. Find out who in the congregation is interested, and set up a time to meet.
2. Let everyone in the congregation know the time and date of the meeting. Encourage everyone in the congregation to participate include members of the church leadership teams. Solicit advice from experts within your congregation (farmers, scientists, planners etc).
3. At the meeting, establish common goals for the garden. Decide who will use the produce grown. Will plots be divided up among interested parishioners who take responsibility for their plot? Will the produce be used for church wide fellowship diners? Will produce grown be donated to a local food bank or soup kitchen? Will plots be open to members of the community? Will you use the produce for a combination of purposes? Together, decide what's right for your congregation.
4. Set ground rules and make a covenant that the entire group agrees to.
5. Decide on a proposed space for the garden. Have alternatives in mind and be willing to compromise with others in the congregation. Beach Lake's garden is a space that was their second choice, but it ended up working out very well.
6. Make sure you are in compliance with local zoning laws. You may also want to have the soil tested for toxins.
7. Come up with a plan for fundraising. Things to consider: encourage member donations, apply for grants for local funding, and ask community businesses (nurseries and garden and hardware stores) to contribute funds or supplies.
8. Get permission from the church leadership.
9. Celebrate your success and have regular congregational work days to help maintain the garden and harvest the fruits of your labor.
Great ideas from other churches!
- The Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. James in New Haven, CT, grows Zero Carbon tomatoes in pots in the church parking lot and sells them at a farmers market 200 yards from the church.
- Maryland Presbyterian Church in Baltimore has designated days for wearing gardening clothes to church and having a post worship weeding party.
- First Presbyterian in Brooklyn strives to make their community garden multi-generational. Sunday School Children can adopt earthworms for the garden and learn how they compost soil.