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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 <garlicgrower@earthlink.net>
  • Date: Wed, 05 Jun 2002 10:02:21 -0400

Hi, Folks!

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.
June 2002

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 
asked Pasekoff.

"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.

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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