Garden of Feedin'


Garden produce creates relationships, helps families with food sustainability

Oakley, Kan. — The community garden sponsored, planted, and cared for by the Oakley United Methodist Church was a vision of one member who brought that vision to others. The vision caught on and became a reality in the spring of 2012. With that vision Monday mornings became a time when all volunteers gathered for devotion and prayer time.  
It was decided to organize the community garden with very few rules to follow. The intent of the garden was to provide fresh produce for the community, those in need and those who were no longer able to plant and care for a garden. It would also supplement the food pantry each week during the garden season. The only “rule” placed before others was “you may take any produce from the tables but please leave the picking to us.”  We decided on that rule as we were finding some plants that were being trampled.    
The empty grass lot east of the church was the perfect garden spot. A volunteer tilled the sod to ready it for planting. The garden was plotted out and planted by a small group. Monday mornings were a time of prayer and fellowship and then working in the garden. Standing, kneeling, weeding, watering and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation was the beginning of a conversation piece in the community. Many people walked and drove by the garden. Time and time again we were asked what fertilizer we used to grow such huge beautiful plants. No fertilizer from a bag or bottle — it was all God!  
The vegetables and fruits were picked and placed on tables on the corner of the lot for all to enjoy. People took any produce that had been picked.
The pumpkins are always fun! Some are placed on the tables. Everyone wants the large pumpkins so it was decided the only fair way to make them available was to hold a silent auction and take donations. The proceeds help with buying plants and seeds for the following year and a portion of the pumpkin money goes to Imagine No Malaria.  
The garden was well received in the community and was planted again in 2013 and will be again in a few months. It is a wonderful outreach for our church and appreciated and enjoyed by many in the community. God is good! And we are thankful for the bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables that are shared and the bountiful harvest of friendships and conversations that take place each garden season. The “Garden of Feedin’”  — a blessing from God!      

Pastor Sheryl Johnson
Oakley UMC, Oakley, Kan.