parkdale united church

429 Parkdale Avenue, OTTAWA, Ontario K1Y 1H3

Growing in Faith

A few months ago, the Stewardship Group took on a new initiative to steward the Earth. Consistent with Parkdale’s mission and values, we wanted to help in some small way to bless this wonderful community in which we are so fortunate to live. Inspired by Canada’s ‘Plant A Row - Grow A Row’ harvest sharing program and Anthony’s community gardening efforts with the New Monastic Christian group while on sabbatical last year, the Stewardship Group rented an 8 X 15 metre garden plot where we grew vegetables to serve during the In From The Cold supper hospitality ministry this fall.

We planted the vegetables on Saturday, June 7. It was a hot day and we gave thanks for the sunshine. Some of us had never planted vegetables in our life and so it really was an exercise in growing in faith. We planted a variety of vegetables, namely carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, white turnips, green bush beans, zucchini, acorn squash, and tomatoes.

It was great team work and a good example of how a group of people could come together and share their diverse Spirit-given gifts. The planners had already pulled out their gardening guides and determined which vegetables should be planted beside each other for optimal growth (known as companion gardening). Those with strong shoulders shoveled the mounds in beautifully straight lines. With the help of a little fertilizer, the implementers carefully planted the tiny seeds. Then the nurturers lovingly watered the newly-planted seeds.

Of course, we are never too young or too old to steward and care for God’s creation. Brothers Freddy (age 5) and Isaac Andrews (age 3) were wonderful little helpers. They did an excellent job of helping to water the freshly planted vegetables while baby brother Theo slept blissfully.

We finished planting at 11:30 a.m. – just in time for Anthony to say a blessing for the garden and then drive to St. Laurent Boulevard for a tasty lunch at St. Hubert BBQ Restaurant. I couldn’t wait to see how our Creator was going to bless our garden.

In the days following that ‘planting party’, I prayed earnestly for rain and invited all my friends to do likewise. Judging by the amount of rain received in June, there must have been a lot of people praying.

One sunny Sunday evening, I returned to the garden to check on its progress. Suffice it to say that I was very discouraged by the number of weeds. Of course, it had rained on the weeds as well as the vegetables. A week or two earlier, Anthony had cautioned the congregation, “If you are going to pray for rain, you should take an umbrella.” I would humbly offer another version of that advice to all gardeners: “If you are going to pray for rain, make sure that you have a good garden hoe and a strong back for weeding!”

I am still finding it difficult to appreciate those awful weeds as part of God’s creation, but I was thankful for the weeding experience that evening because a kind gentleman in the adjacent plot, a lovely senior citizen named Luigi, lent me a hoe and showed me how to use it. When he left, he told me that I could return the hoe to him the next time that I saw him at the garden. His trust in me (a stranger) warmed my heart.

I was also thankful for all the calories that I worked off that evening and for the glorious sunset that I saw as I drove away. By the time I arrived home, every muscle in my body ached and I gave thanks for my hot bath.

At press time, we have already harvested some of the vegetables and are looking forward to sharing our harvest with Parkdale’s In From The Cold guests.

In closing, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all who helped with the preparation, planning, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and preserving of vegetables. Without you, the community garden initiative would not have succeeded.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Hennessy

Chair, Stewardship Group