Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
The Boston Food Justice YAV program ended 2 weeks ago and since its end I have been doing some soul searching and job searching. I'm back at home readjusting to life in my hometown and trying to figure out where I go from here. Part of me know what I want to do and is ready to get started. Another part of me is holding on to my old ways, my apprehensive ways.
I want to build gardens. I want to build gardens that provide produce to those in need. I want these gardens to be a place where communities come together and neighbors help neighbors. I also want those on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to shop for produce at farmers markets because the market has a matching program.
During our time in Boston I really appreciated the social programs the state and localities sponsored. We went to farmers markets almost every weekend to buy our groceries, even while on SNAP. We were able to buy nourishing produce for our bodies which then became nourishing to our souls as we spent time in fellowship around the table.
I want to provide this same experience for families who need a little extra help making ends meet.
*Just because they need help making ends meet does not mean that they should have to eat less wholesome, unhealthy food and not have fellowship at the dinner table over a delicious meal. We are all children of God and deserve to be provided for in God's bounty.*
Yesterday morning God had a message for me. I went to church hoping to hear something special. I got what I asked for. Our pastor's sermon started with Moses and the burning bush. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush and gave Moses a message he had to deliver to Pharaoh. I feel a little bit like Moses. I have a message to deliver.
The sermon continued and our pastor mentioned that you never know who you might affect when you go out into the world. Something as small as a kind word or deed can really affect those around you. He made a metaphor that made me think God has his sights right on me that morning. He said its like being a farmer and planting seed. That seed is going to grow into something and you never know who you're going to help. Farmer. Seed. Growing. Helping. Its exactly what I needed to hear. We also sang one of my favorite hymns, Here I am Lord.
The lyrics "Here I am Lord, is it I Lord? ... I will go Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart" strike me every time I sing it.
Here I am Lord, I will go where you lead me. Lead me like you led Moses. Help me grow fruits of the Spirit.
I work at a food pantry that supplies fresh produce and non-perishables for countless individuals and families. Just today we had 18 clients visit us in just an hour and a half! These clients range from individuals and couples to families of 6 or more. They are all shapes and sizes, ethnicities, personalities and so on. There is rarely a dull day at our pantry.
That is even more true now. A local grocery store chain, embattled in a family feud, has had managers walk of the job (and some have been fired subsequently) and workers protesting outside stores. Produce ...
I found out today that I have had a fractured foot for the past four years. I broke it in a car accident that I don’t really like to talk about, and my foot has hurt ever since.
I can walk, I can run, I can ride a bike, I can hike, I can eat a burrito while standing on one foot, but it hurts all the time.
The healing process was complicated because this break is easily missed, and so I walked around for three weeks before anyone told me it was broken. Then they said it would ...
One thing I have learned in my year in the Boston Young Adult Volunteer program is that food is a great equalizer.
Interview with Rev. Karen Hagen, pastor of Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about their new Rooftop Garden
You've had a community garden going for a few years now, but tell us about this new initiative.
Our Rooftop Garden has been completed and is growing with harvest coming. Education around the gardens has included the Webinar, local newspaper, garden blessing, and upcoming canning and food use in Divine Intervention’s food programing. We are participating in our synod’s just.good.food program as well.
How did you do it?
Approximately 14 volunteers worked on the Rooftop Garden installation, approximately 20 are working in our other gardens and maintain Rooftop Garden. Primary responsibility for garden care falls upon our Garden Keepers who are homeless and formerly homeless Guests of our Divine Intervention Ministry. Already we have approximately 100 lbs. of organic produce given away. We have developed relationships with 4 funders, 2 restaurants interested in produce grown locally, and 1 local greenhouse that will help us look forward to next enhancements.
Anything surprising happen?
More volunteers than anticipated and a deepening relationship with our neighborhood! One of the unexpected challenges came in relying on one of our partners to coordinate different aspects of the installation of Rooftop Garden. As we move to next aspects of our gardens, we will be proactive in taking on this role ourselves.
Do you have any recommendations for others that may want to try something similar?
Partnerships are key not only in accomplishing but maintaining the gardens. Continually inviting new people to become involved is important to maintain support as key volunteers may need to limit or change their volunteerism with project. Think forward!
Has this project changed your church or community in any way?
Yes! It has allowed us to see what is possible as we stay faithful to our vision and think and partner creatively. And, quite unexpectedly, new attention from the greater community is coming toward Tippecanoe in support and visitors to worship.
Here is the newspaper article about the initiative: