Edible Churchyards, Campuses and More

by Christine Sine

This morning I had the privilege of being a part of a Farms, Food and Faith networking meeting held at Seattle University in conjunction with Seattle Tilth and members of faith communities and congregations interested in growing, harvesting and distributing food.

This is the second such meeting we have held. The first meeting was at Seattle Tilth, already familiar to me because of the amazing array of resources they provide. That meeting connected me to a number of organizations like Lettuce Links, in the area some of which I mentioned in this post.

Today’s meeting was another rich experience of learning. I was awed by the scope of Seattle University’s edible landscape program. As early as 1994 they were recognized for their pollution preventing grounds practices. They now have a number of gardens well worth a visit. Their edible plants range from an entire Orchard to an occasional blueberry plant in the landscape that provides a snack for any person that walks by.  

Another initiative I learned about is the Edible Churchyard Program at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. I know it is a little far away for most Seattlites to visit but those in the New York area might like to look it up. It is training hundreds of seminarians to incorporate food justice and growing into their future work as community and faith leaders while also converting parts of the campus into models for urban growing.  

Another interesting program is Growing Groceries Mentorship Program which trains volunteers to help make existing community garden projects sustainable. 

We recognize that churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship often have underutilized resources. Churches often have land that sits idle except at Easter when the easter egg hunt is on. Other places of worship have kitchens that only get utilized for coffee hour after services. Congregations have volunteers some of whom may be passionate cupboard gardeners. All have spiritual resources and even financial resources that could be used to help us grow more of our own food and share it with neighbours, food banks, the homeless and other ministries.

This is an exciting opportunity that I hope will encourage the few of us who are already passionate about growing our own food to ignite the smoldering embers in others within our congregations.

I know that Seattle is not alone is developing such initiatives and I would love to hear from others who have been involved in similar ventures. 

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Gudrun September 13, 2013 - 4:51 am

Christine, I chased up some of the links on this story, and then discovered so much more of what’s going on with food, farming and faith in the US. There seems to be little of this trend happening in Australia, where I live; perhaps I’m just not traveling in the right circles?
What have you discovered on your visits here?

Christine Sine September 13, 2013 - 1:35 pm

Gudrun – here is a place to start http://permacultureaustralia.org.au/
You might also like to try http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/ though I am not sure how much they can connect you with other resources

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