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Gardens And the Community Connecting the Church A Proposal for Area Churches The Benefits of Community Gardens Starting a Community Garden Benefits for the Church Community  Creates community and partnership within the church by allowing different age groups to work together

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Gardens

And the Community

Connecting the Church

A Proposal for Area Churches

The Benefits of Community Gardens

Starting a Community Garden

  • Benefits for the Church Community
  • Creates community and partnership within the church by allowing different age groups to work together
  • Brings life and beauty to the Church land
  • Provides opportunities for parishioners to work with their hands and be outside
  • Brings in wholesome, fresh food to the church for things like
  • potlucks and food pantries
  • Provides a bridge between the Church and the neighborhood
  • giving opportunity for relationship formation and outreach
  • Benefits for the Surrounding Community
  • Shared work helps to build friendship and solidarity around a common vision of the good
  • Allows people without adequate land to grow their own food
  • Helps create a more sustainable local food network
  • The natural beauty of the garden enhances the scenic quality of the surrounding neighborhood
  • Provides a venue to teach area children about agriculture
  • Recent studies have shown that community gardens have psychological, economical, sociological benefits for people
  • Bring about a sense of pride and ownership for one’s community and the environment
  • For more benefits see: http://www.communitygarden.org/whatgood.php

How to Get Started

1. Find out who is interested. Alert congregation members, but also contact your Neighborhood

Association to see if other community members are interested in starting a garden

2. Make sure that there is at least one community member, possibly a Church Staff member, who

can take charge of maintaining a committee of neighbors for the care of the garden.

3. Choose a site. Make sure the site gets at least 6 full hours of sunlight daily (for vegetables).

4. Test your soil for lead. Lead, found in some kinds of paints before 1978, can cause a serious

health risk to people. If lead is in the soil, leafy green plants will absorb it and ingesting these

plants can be harmful. Check out www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?page_id=3222 for

more information on Grand Rapids Programs.

5. Identify a water source! If there is no building on the site, negotiate with a neighbor to use

water from their house.

6. Consider how the garden should be organized, how many plots are needed and who should get

which plots.

7. Make a set of rules for those who want to have a plot in the garden. Ensure that all gardeners

are aware of the time-commitment to gardening and create a standard for neatness. By

establishing this before the garden is planted, problems can be avoided and/or dealt with

quickly and efficiently.

8. Consider a community compost heap. This is an excellent way for neighbors to reduce their

waste. Be very intentional about informing every community member about what can and

cannot be put in the compost.

9. Be aware that the first several years may not be as fruitful as expected – the soil will take a

while to develop into good nourishing soil.

10. Make a sign! Let your neighbors know about the garden!

11. Prepare the land and plant your food

12. The American Community Garden Association has an excellent fact sheet with ideas for

starting a community garden. http://www.communitygarden.org/starting.php

Construction Costs

A 50’X50’ garden will generally cost at least $1,000 to construct and prepare for the first growing season. However, a garden can be prepared for only $200 and later gradually improved if it proves successful. But the more money put into beautifying the garden, the more it will be enjoyed; an unimproved plot of land will likely not draw participants and the garden will not be a lasting success.

 Tool Shed $400

(Tools can also be kept in storage room or a simple large bin.)

 Tools: shovels, rakes, hoes, spades, hoses, wheelbarrow, gloves $300

(Alternatively, large tools for construction can be brought by church members, and smaller tools can be donated by members)

Small fence to ward off vandals: $200+

(If the neighborhood is involved, vandalism and theft will be minimal in most cases even without a fence.)

Raised beds: (lumber and soil) $75+ each

 Bench, Path materials, Bulletin board Cost Varies

 Soil test Lab Test $100+ DIY Test $15

Operational Costs

Once the garden is well established and running efficiently, production of vegetables will be one-tenth the wholesale price. The following costs can be redeemed by renting plots out to gardeners for a season or possibly by selling some of the produce of the garden.

Water $20 / month

Mulch; Fertilizers & Pest repellents; Seeds and young plants 1/10 wholesale

The social and economic significance of community gardening is gaining recognition in West Michigan. Neighborhood organizations, schools, businesses, and other groups currently operate about a dozen community gardens in the Grand Rapids area.

Through this poster, we hope to encourage area churches with open land to consider starting a garden for their members and neighbors.

Links

www.foodshed.com

- Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council

- Working to promote and coordinate community gardens in West Michigan

http://www.communitygarden.org

- American Community Gardening Association (ACGA)

- Numerous resources and tips for starting a community garden

Examples of Existing Gardens

Webster Church Community Garden

Located in the heart of Webster Township, near Ann Arbor .

6 plot are available every summer

Designed for people with physical limitations

Church, community members & local boy scouts continue to build and maintain the garden areas

Church provides land and water

Built on the property of Webster United Church of Christ

Heartside Peace Garden

Located at the intersection of Wealthy and Commerce Ave.

Garden was created in 1996, focusing primarily on the homeless in the neighboring areas

The vegetables grown by Richa, maintainer and founder of the garden, are donated to Well

House homeless shelter

6-10 plots available for gardening each summer

Land and water provided by Catholic Secondary Schools

Contact: richa@safe-mail.net

Grand Rapids’ Community Gardens

http://www.foodshed.net/committees/gardens.htm