An image gallery accompanying this article is available here.
At Episcopal parishes around the country, increasing numbers of volunteers are putting their faith to work with hoes and trowels, drip systems and harvesting baskets. Community gardens are producing fresh, local vegetables for gardeners and food pantries, stewarding land and biological diversity, and connecting people across cultures and generations.
Our Saviour Community Garden in Dallas, Texas is "Plotting Against Hunger" by donating 18,000 pounds of food in the past 5 years. Teaching others, from toddlers to elders, about community gardening has become part of their mission.
At Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, hope is made tangible in the poor center city area where altar flowers and vegetables for the Sunday feeding program, "A Place at the Table," green a former vacant lot. As with many church gardens, the Martha and Mary garden at St. Paul's, Kansas City, Missouri, offers both a common growing area, with produce for those who need it, and allotments for urban dwellers who lack the space to garden.
From building beds to packing pickles, St. Peter's Church Eco-team in Bennington, Vermont, has been serving earth and neighbors in their garden's first season. In Syracuse, New York, "Seeds of Grace", organic beds carved from Grace Church's parking lot, is a spot where food justice values and locavore aspirations meet.
Many community gardens grow friendships as well as vegetables through cooperative endeavors. At Holy Nativity in Westchester, California, lawn was replaced with productive growing space working with the Urban Farming movement. In some places school, community and parish work together, as at St. Paul's in New Orleans, and in McKinney, Texas, where St. Peter's Church and Holy Family School collaborate.
Even the 4 by 16 foot organic plot reclaimed from the lawn at St. Mary's Church in Cadillac, Michigan, has yielded broccoli, peas and salad vegetables for neighbors in need.
View images from these gardens here.