With the call of Spring, activities moved forward at the Garden of Hope at the Community of St. John Baptist (CSJB) in Mendham. The mission of the Good News Gardens movement, as led by The Episcopal Church, is to partner with people in transformational agrarian ministry that feeds body, mind, and spirit. Good News Gardens is a church-wide movement of individuals, congregations, schools, colleges, seminaries, monasteries, camps and conference centers involved in a variety of food and creation care ministries – gardening, farming, beekeeping, composting, gleaning, feeding, and food justice advocacy. Collectively Good News Gardens share their abundance, their prayers, and the Way of Love in their communities and beyond.
CSJB has been blessed with the presence of Mendham Boy Scout Troop 1. In March, Eagle Scout Candidate Bret Kiefer of Chester mobilized three different work teams to make progress on a number of tasks: garden house foundation and framing; compost bin construction; hedge trimming; demolition of rotting boards; ground preparation for new beds; and leaf blowing and black walnut nut collection around the Community’s St. Marguerite's Retreat Center. The Scouts ages 8 to 19 participated, and their efforts so far have earned them over 200 hours of community service credit for their advancement in scout levels. Kudos to Bret for his leadership skills.
The Scouts will return in April to install a different type of bed at the garden, one rooted in agrarian practices for over a century in England. The Troop will also complete the garden path mulching and fencing restoration. The Scouts also did some leaf blowing and black walnut nut removal, and spent some time clearing the labyrinth of sticks and leaves.
One goal of Good News Gardens is placement of spaces for contemplative gardening. In the foreground of this photo is the old patio in need of restoration:
The Convent is in search of options for restoration of this Sacred Space. The Rev. Pamela Dolan, an Episcopal priest in California and author of Contemplative Gardening, recently presented for Good News Gardens on that topic.
Upcoming work at The Garden of Hope will involve volunteers from Holy Trinity, West Orange who are scheduling a work day this Spring to help with garden preparations in Mendham. Holy Trinity maintains an active Food Pantry. Other active registered gardens with the diocese include St. Gregory's, Parsippany and St. Andrews and Holy Communion, South Orange. Consider asking members of your congregations to come forth for this Creation Care ministry.
This past year the Garden of Hope, Church of the Messiah, Chester and St. Peter's, Morristown registered for the Agrarian Ministries program which provides an abundance of support towards the mission of providing food security and biodiversity.
The Goods News Gardens initiative, which is identified under Creation Care Agrarian Ministries, now has been added to the Episcopal Asset Map. If your congregation or institution has a garden, consider registering for the national program.
Julie Crawford is an Associate of the Community of St. John Baptist, Mendham, and a parishioner of Church of the Messiah, Chester.