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Read these exciting articles about our Community Garden ministries:
The Mobile Press-Register Covers our Food Ministry at Hillsdale Presbyterian Church!
A Recent Article in Lagniappe on our Gardening Ministries
Read about our project in the Mobile Press-Register!
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Community Garden Registration Form
send completed form and plot fee to:
Rev. Mark Renn
Providence Presbyterian Church
2320 Schillinger Rd. S.
Mobile, AL 36695
QUESTIONS? Call 251-633-9701
Plant the Seeds of Love!
Having just now completed our first year of community gardening at Providence Presbyterian, I thought it timely to share with you some of the exciting things that have been going on in an around this new ministry. First and foremost, we completed a summer of vegetable growing which taught us a lot about the process and patience required to garden successfully. Each of our growers had a different experience, and we are excited to put our newfound knowledge to good use next year.
We have also just planted our first winter garden. Thanks to the generosity of the good people at Southern Feed and Farm and Grand Bay Feed and Seed, we received a plethora of seeds to plant and experiment with at no charge to the church (see picture). One of the things that the garden is teaching us is the value of making new relationships. I have been blessed and blown away by the generosity of stores and farmers in our area.
Just yesterday, I picked up another truckload of free produce (see picture) from Oak Hill Farms in Grand Bay. This produce has been a blessing to our church's food ministry (just look in the freezer!) and to our community in the name of Christ. I love driving around with a truck full of vegetables and starting conversations with complete strangers, inviting them to take whatever they can use free of charge. When people ask why, I tell them "We've been blessed by receiving this produce, and we want to share that blessing with others in the name of Christ." Oftentimes, these conversations lead into discussion about our garden and some of the other great things that are going on at Providence.
Another exciting new opportunity that the garden has afforded the church is new chance for me to speak at conferences and workshops about this missional endeavor. As a result, we have forged partnerships with a number of different churches that want to do the same thing. In this way, we are not only producing food for the community, we are raising awareness and even multiplying GARDENS around Mobile! In a way, it is kind of like another version of church planting, creating spaces where people can come together and have their needs fulfilled by God, but planting gardens instead of buildings.
A few weeks ago, we had a group from Toulminville-Warren St. UMC come out to learn the ropes of gardening. They helped me till and sow all of the remaining empty plots. As a result, they learned about vegetable farming, and we now have garden full of sprouting winter vegetables. This church, located in the Pritchard area, plans to have us help them design and install a garden on their property! And their growing space is even bigger than ours!
All in all, this garden has opened many doors for us, and new opportunities to expand our project and engage our community present themselves each day. There are many ways that you can get involved in this exciting project, just speak to me and I'll put you to work!
Rev. Mark R. Renn, October 2010
"Nature operates according to a system of nutrients and metabolisms in which there is no such thing as waste...The Earth's major nutrients -carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen- are cycled and recycled. Waste equals food." -William McDonough in Cradle to Cradle
Contrary to the logic and design of natural processes, modern society has adopted a mindset that imagines that our trash disappears as soon as it is carted away by the garbage truck. Unfortunately, this approach has contributed to the overwhelming impact that our household waste has on the local and global environment. By some estimations, organic waste (in the form of kitchen waste, yard clippings, paper and cardboard, etc) make up almost one-third of garbage going into landfills. Once there, it is forced to decompose anaerobically, releasing methane, a major contributor to global warming.
Rather than conceiving of organic waste as something to get rid of, gardeners and organic farmers have been cherishing this material as a widely available means for improving the soil and the health of their produce. As part of our new community garden, we will have several working compost piles. Composting makes a statement that we are good and responsible stewards of all of the things God has given to us. These bins are designed to process all of the organic waste associated with the garden as well as organic kitchen and yard waste generated at the church. Properly maintained, these bins produce only a lovely faint earthy aroma. This finished compost will then be re-added to the garden plots, improving the health and vitality of the growing medium.
As the weather cools and the leaves begin to fall from the trees, the home gardener receives a mixed blessing. On the one hand, raking leaves is a chore, but on the other hand, fallen leaves produce great compost that will be fully processed by the time to plant in the spring. Now that our community garden is complete, we need to begin collecting organic materials to make compost. Two of the best and most widely available fall compost materials are leaves and pumpkins.
Most people decorate their front porches with pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and then just throw them away when they start to rot. This year, we invite you to bring your old pumpkin to the church and throw it in the compost pile. Put it in one of the bins, and then cover it with partially composted material from the other bin. You can also bring in bags of raked leaves, grass clippings, twigs and any other yard waste to add to the piles.
So here's what you can do!
1.) Collect your kitchen waste in a container (a bucket with small holes drilled in the lid works well) and bring it to add to the compost pile. Fruit and vegetable peels/rinds, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, shredded paper, cardboard and similar materials are great stuff to compost. Avoid composting meat scraps, fatty food wastes, milk products, and bones -- these materials are very attractive to pests. Simply add to the working pile by digging a small hole in the surface and covering whatever you add!
2.) Stop by local Starbuck's Coffee stores and ask for the FREE "Grounds for Your Garden". They will give you a bag of used coffee grounds that make a great addition to compost. Consider talking to other restaurants and companies that throw away large amounts of organic materials (such as supermarkets, sandwich shops, etc)
3.) If you don't have a place to compost yard trimmings such as grass, leaves and clippings at your house, consider bringing them to the compost pile at the church.
Together, we can reduce our impact locally and globally while creating a resource that can be converted into delicious fruits and vegetables. If you have questions concerning what to add or how to maintain a compost pile, please talk to Pastor Mark. Composting is one of the best and most efficient ways to recycle!