Children at Christ Church Beaurepaire in Beaconsfield engage in a project each summer to grow and harvest fresh vegetables in a garden at the church to help feed the clients at St. Michael’s Mission.
The idea for a vegetable garden started several years ago when Archdeacon Michael Johnson got a federal government grant to hire three summer students for a community gardens project. They did some landscaping and planted the first vegetable garden, just off the back parking lot. However, the plot was quite shaded, and not very productive, so a couple of years later it was moved to the sunnier spot that it now occupies, beside the church. It is also an easier location from which to collect rain water to water the garden during any dry spells.
The Sunday school children and their teachers took over caring for the vegetable garden the following year, and many other church members have gotten involved. One of our parishioners, Adrian Willison, is a farmer, and he kindly donates some seedling plants every summer--usually a couple of varieties of tomatoes and beans. Sometimes Adrian also includes other vegetables he is trying out that season, such as broccoli and celery, so over the years the children have had experience in growing lots of different things. The children grow their own cucumbers and zucchini from seed, planted in pots at the beginning of May. Last year we planted a few perennial herbs-- parsley, oregano and onion grass--that survived the winter and came up again this spring.
Everything is ready to be planted around the middle of June. All we have to do is pray for a nice sunny gardening day after the Sunday service. The first vegetables, zucchini, are usually ready to be harvested around the end of July, followed soon after by beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Another of our parishioners, Lorna Fisher, volunteers every Monday at St. Michael's Mission, which operates a soup kitchen and day center for men and women, many of whom are homeless and have mental health issues. After Sunday's church service the children harvest the ripe vegetables and give them to Lorna to bring down with her to the mission on Monday. At the mission they are used in the daily soup and/or as fresh vegetable snacks.
The Sunday School children (and their teachers!) really enjoy being outside to appreciate God's creation - including the worms and bugs! The children also learn that not everyone always has enough to eat and that they can make a difference in people's lives by planting and harvesting this garden and giving the vegetables to our local food bank. They learn that Jesus taught that this is one way to show love and compassion for people.