Carol's last blog highlighted the piles of snow covering Elgin. Thanks to some 60 degree days this week all of our snow was whisked away. It is still February though, and I realize the cold will be back. This warm weather is just a gimmick, toying with our need for sunshine and days spent outside. The warmth has made me start to think spring thoughts and plan spring plans! I am much anticipating several oncoming activities like the beginning of our church softball season, March Madness, and hopefully a BVS house garden!
Both my Nana and my mom each had a fairly extensive garden growing up. They planted and grew tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, melons, peppers, zinnias, green beans, peas, pumpkins... really I could go on, but you get the idea. I was very lucky to grow up eating green beans canned by my mom, and homemade jam made by my Nana. My family was privileged to have land for a garden, good soil, the ability to buy seeds and the time to tend the garden.
When I was a senior in high school, our sunday school class decided to grow a community garden on the church property. My dad plowed the land and our class and my family spent each Sunday morning working in the garden. When the time came to harvest our vegetables and flowers, we set up a booth on the front lawn of the church. We offered all that we had grown to the congregation and to the neighboring community. Although we had a donation jar, we did not ask for payment for any of our produce. And although, it concerned some, we didn't worry about collecting the money at the end of every day. The way we figured, if someone came by and saw the money and really needed it, then it was theirs to take. By not getting bogged down with trying to make money we made the project much more meaningful and set an example for our own congregation. At the end of the summer, we used any donations we received to purchase food for our food pantry. That same summer, our pastor also planted a garden connecting to the youth garden. We used the same seeds, the same plants, and provided them with the same care. When the plants came up and started producing though, there was a clear difference in the abundance of vegetables and the health of the plants between the two gardens. While our side flourished, our pastor's half of the garden took much more coaxing to produce. We were never able to figure out why our garden did so much better than our pastor's. All I can say is that we went in with the right attitude and the right heart and God helped us provide some food for those who did not know how to or could not produce their own.
There is an another organization also has these key elements, the right attitude and the right heart: ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization)
"ECHO's Mission is to equip people with resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.
ECHO's Vision is to honor God through sustainable hunger solutions."
I was fortunate to visit ECHO and the 75 degree sunny days of North Fort Myers, Florida this past week! I traveled with Chelsea Goss, of the Portland BVS house! We were able to take a tour of ECHO's global farm. The demonstration farm is made up of multiple different agricultural plots representing different climates and areas of the world, including a tropical section, an arid section, and an urban garden section. Interns, college graduates from around the world, learn about agricultural practices in developing countries, work the farm, and give tours of the demonstration farm. During their term at ECHO they also travel to developing nations and help teach and implement sustainable agricultural practices.
The ECHO project is truly following the old proverb:
This summer, I will travel back to ECHO with a group of senior high youth from the Church of the Brethren. We will help with weeding, planting and other various projects while we are there, and I have no doubt that we will all learn an incredible amount. I am really looking forward to working with the youth and learning more about ECHO's project. But for now, bring on the spring! I'm ready to garden.