Why a community garden?
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Fresh produce is a luxury many people in Mars cannot afford, so in response to our calling and the perceived need, we began a free garden filled with healthy, organic produce for the community. This garden is a space for people to be nourished in body and soul. Anyone is welcome to come and enjoy the garden and the fresh produce it grows.
How does faith influence the garden?
We are called to be good stewards, good caretakers of God's creation. We strive to use organic methods to maintain the garden, using organic materials and creating a healthy biome to manage pests and disease rather than using harsh chemicals that may harm the surrounding environment. Where possible, we have used reclaimed or recycled materials. Our potted plants are in containers made by a company that creates materials by recycling plastic found in the oceans.
Why use a rain barrel?
Rain barrels are a great way to be good stewards of water. Water is collected from the roof of the church and stored in the rain barrel until it is needed in the garden. Rain barrels therefore help to reduce sewage runoff as well as demands on the local water systems. No harsh chemicals are used to maintain the rain barrels. The mesh at the top keeps debris and mosquitos out of the barrel. The opaque sides minimize the risk of algae growth in the barrel.
What is growing in the garden?
Plants were selected based on the perceived wants and needs of the community. You can find a variety of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. There are also zucchini, squash, and beans growing. In the center of the garden are flowers and herbs. Plants are labeled with signs that share information about the plant as well as harvesting methods.
Why are there flowers and herbs?
Flowers encourage pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.) to come and visit the garden. While they are in the area, they stop at the vegetable plants and pollinate them too. Without pollination, the vegetable plants won't produce vegetables.
Herbs are not only delicious additions to many meals, they also help deter certain pests in the garden. Strategically placing herbs and other plants together is a practice called "companion planting."
How can I help?
It takes a lot of work to keep a garden healthy and productive! We need volunteers to help weed and water the garden on a regular basis. Routine monitoring for pests and disease is also an important ongoing task. And of course we need help harvesting and eating the fruits of the labor! Training is available for interested parties by contacting Pastor Katie.
How can I learn more about the garden and the practices used?
We love sharing what we have learned about gardening and teaching people about our own garden and the choices we have made in creating the St. John Lutheran Church Community Garden. Simply contact the office and someone will be in touch with you!