United Church News article on St. John's UCC Organic CommunityGarden
- Subject: [cg] United Church News article on St. John's UCC Organic CommunityGarden
- From: Alliums <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 05 Jun 2002 10:02:21 -0400
The "Across the UCC" section of United Church News (the newspaper of the
United Church of Christ) decided to feature church gardens and chose ours
as an example of a "mission" community garden. If you want to read all 3
articles, the URL is below -- I just added the part about us! :-)
Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
A mission of
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460
Garden builds community, tithes 10 percent
by Carol L. Pavlik
Bethel UCC, Elmhurst, Ill.
Not everyone was pleased when the St. John's UCC Organic Community Garden
in Phoenixville, Pa., planted its garden in a vacant plot of land situated
behind a housing project.
The Pennsylvania Housing Authority was glad to offer the land for St.
John's use. Allocated for recreation, the acre of land had become an
eyesore, taken over by locals who rutted the earth with frequent drag
racing and littered the ground with liquor bottles and trash.
Deemed unsafe, parents from the Fairview Housing project wouldn't permit
their children to play there. "It was a wasteland," remembers Dorene
Pasekoff of St. John's, who eagerly began clearing out weeds and planning
the garden's layout.
But it wasn't long before Pasekoff received a visit from some
rough-around-the-edges locals who liked things the way they were.
"What are you going to do when people start stealing your stuff?" they
"Look," she told them matter-of-factly, "I can grow enough to feed anybody.
If you see something you want to try, ask me. If you like it and you want
more, help me with the garden and I'll give you all you can eat." They
left, and Pasekoff never heard from them again.
Years later, the garden is thriving. Not only has it quickly become the
prime source of in-season produce for the church's local foodbank, but
Pasekoff says the garden has completely transformed the Fairview housing
site that stands before it. Children are allowed by their parents to play
in the garden now. Residents are buying lawn furniture so they can look out
onto the garden. And gardeners are being good stewards of the earth by
employing organic growing techniques. Gutters have been installed to
collect rainwater. And all the gardeners tithe, that is, they give at least
10 percent of their harvest to the foodbank (though almost everyone gives
more than 10 percent, says Pasekoff).
Thanks to donations from seed companies and locals, the garden is slowly
leaning towards becoming more than a vegetable plot. With culinary herbs,
medicinal herbs, heirlooms, small fruits and fruit trees, the garden is
well on its way to becoming something of a botanical garden as well.
Pasekoff uses her expertise as a garlic grower for the USDA to keep the
community garden going strong. Even amidst drought, the garden has no
problem with pollinators. "There's always something in bloom, which is what
you want in an organic system," says Pasekoff. "I used to think applemint
was absolutely worthless, until I saw all the beneficiaries sucking the
liquid out of it. Now, I keep all the flowers there. That's food for our
Send news, stories and photos of events at your local church to Across the
UCC, United Church News, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115.
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