You may or may not have noticed the work being done in what we affectionately call “The Back 40,” but over the last few weeks there have been some changes to the acreage under the power lines along Oak Avenue Parkway. First, a hole was dug by a couple of our students to find a water line. Then, a local contractor company graded the area (for free!). One of the elders installed water lines, and a crew of local gardeners helped get the area ready for its new purpose: a Community Garden. This garden has been in the works since last fall, and I am so excited that, through the efforts of so many volunteers (both Oak Hillians and local neighbors), it is finally a reality.
One of the reasons I am so excited about this project is the tangible way that it opens up Oak Hills’ resources to the community. We have had those empty acres for years, and although dreams for their use have come and gone (notice that it is still not a disc golf course), the desire to use that land to serve our neighbors has stayed with us. Encouraging the church to go beyond our walls and serve in places like Powerhouse, Twin Lakes Food Bank, PlayMakers, and Theodore Judah Elementary School are wonderful things, but that goes hand in hand with using our own resources to serve the community.
The Community Garden is just one of the wonderful ways that we can do this. People from the surrounding neighborhoods have responded to fliers that were posted, and are incredibly excited about having a place to grow vegetables and be in community. One woman told me that she has been looking for an opportunity like this for years. The long wait list is evidence of just how much our neighbors want to be a part of this experiment. We are welcoming our own neighbors in ways that they desire, and using what God has given us to bless them. It is so beautiful to be a part of this experience.
One of my favorite moments so far was the official launch last Saturday, May 9. It was great to see the gardeners all gathered together, bringing new perspectives, thoughts, and talents to the garden. It reminded me all over again that this project wouldn’t have been possible without the community: from the support of the rest of the staff, to the people who posted the signs, to the students who helped me dig, to the contracting company that graded the area for free, to the woman in the church who heard the announcement and went out immediately to Costco and bought tools and soil, to the woman who donated all of her tools when she moved. Our church and our community came together to make this garden a reality, and I have high hopes that we will continue to come together to support one another and our neighbors.
One tangible way this will happen is through the Twin Lakes Food Bank plot—gardeners will help grow vegetables on one plot that will be donated to the food bank. Even though they have their own garden, Tammy Thompson reports that they always quickly run out of produce. Our efforts won’t solve that all on their own, but we will help make a difference for hungry families through our own passions.
I look forward to see how, over time and through new relationships, conversations in and about the garden will open new doors to love and serve our neighbors. I am so grateful for everyone who has been involved so far, and I can’t wait to see what will blossom in the future. And please, whenever you are nearby, come check out our new garden!