I got my first seed catalogue in the mail this week. I know others of you get them regularly and in numbers nearing the hundreds of thousands, but this was my first. My very first. I feel like framing it. I feel like I’ve crossed a threshold.
I didn’t grow up in a gardening family. My mother was not real big on the idea of weeding and hoeing and pruning. Even when we lived in manses with potatoes waiting in the dirt, rhubarb plants and raspberry bushes yearning for harvest, peach and plum and apple trees ready to drop their gifts every fall, and a sun-lit, well tilled earthy plot of soil. Even with all that, my mom never mobilized us troops to get out and plant and tend. I’m pretty sure this was due to the fact that for years she was forced to garden. Every weekend she was taken to her grandmother’s house to toil in her massive sprawling garden for summers on end. I guess she was all gardened out.
Maybe the gardening gene has lain fallow long enough in my family. Maybe I’m starry-eyed over the magic of your very own tomatoes. Maybe it’s the bills that remind me that with a little sweat I could grow my own groceries. Or maybe it’s because deep down inside, growing something just feels right.
Last year, my church grew its first garden. It was a beautiful thing. Full of peppers and lettuce and tomatoes and beans and a wandering zucchini plant. Over the summer a few people weeded. A lot of produce grew. And we shared it with neighbors and visitors and our AA groups. It was satisfying. It was wonderful and we were glad to mow it down in the fall. But open yourself to a garden, and look out. It take root in a community and it will grow.
Community gardens are really growing around here. They keep popping up at churches, schools, and community centers around Lexington. Winburn Community Art Garden, Dunbar High Memorial Garden, Southland Community Garden, The Rock/La Roca Methodist Church, Nelson Avenue, Booker T Washington, Ballard Griffith Towers, WECEP, Central Baptist Church and Lexington Senior Center just to name a few. (see www.sustainlex.org) They keep spreading. The word is getting out. People are being fed, spiritually and socially and physically. Community gardens are growing and for very good reason.
God tells us in Genesis to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ Usually we take that to mean God wants us to procreate like crazy and have lots and lots of children. But maybe the fruitfulness that God commanded in the Garden means something deeper. Maybe God is commanding us to grow in every way. To be fruitful in our cabbages and pole beans and heirloom tomatoes and basil and conversations and connections and love and encouragement. Maybe multiplying is what God has in mind when we plant onions and sunflowers and artichokes and ideas and thoughts and friendships. This happens when we get out and put our hands in the dirt and grow things together. And you don’t even have to be good at gardening for this to happen. When people grow gardens together, across neighborhoods and boundaries and barriers, something happens. We are fruitful. We multiply the life in our community. We sprout and bloom and have abundant life. And it all starts in a Garden.
Midway Presbyterian Church has a community garden behind the church at Turner and Bruen in Midway, KY. The next Garden meeting is Sunday, March 29, 2pm. See www.midwaypresbyterian.org for details.