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Church of the Brethren garden gives back

Natalie Veissalov
Editor in Chief

The La Verne Church of the Brethren is growing fresh produce in its new community garden called “Peace and Carrots,” and each gardener is donating 10 percent of their produce to local food banks.

The idea of creating the garden came about when the church was trying to answer the question: “How do we care for our neighbors?” said the La Verne Church of the Brethren’s associate minister, Janet Ober, who came up with the special name for the garden.

The church rents the plots to whoever would like to garden for $40 for the entire year and $25 for six months.
There are 28 plots, which are 4 feet by 12 feet, and four raised plots that are 4 feet by 4 feet for the physically challenged.

The garden, which opened for use on Nov. 1, has an irrigation system and a tool shed nearby to provide garden tools to gardeners.

“The garden is not only to feed your stomach, but to feed your soul also,” said Michael Wolfsen, originator of the garden.

There is a growing need for food and there are many with little income in the surrounding communities, Ober said.

“It occurred to me that a lot of people were hungry,” Wolfsen said.

“It really raises the issue that there are people in need in our community,” said Mike Wolfsen, an avid gardener and Michael’s husband. “There is such a need for fresh produce.”

The main requirement for vegetable growers is to donate 10 percent of their produce to the Beta Center, a food bank. The other 90 percent is for their own use.

The garden allows for creating new friendships, eating healthier and helping people in need, Wolfsen said.

By creating the garden, it allows the community and the congregation to better assist this problem. “We have a lot of people with a green thumb in our congregation,” Ober said.

“Community gardens are very fashionable right now,” Wolfsen said.

Matthew 25:31-46 in the scripture symbolizes the community garden at the Church, Ober said. The scripture is called “The Sheep and Goats,” and suggests that redemption is the result of looking out for others around you, making sure the hungry are not left hungry and the unclothed are not left unclothed.

“Christ is in everyone. Therefore, we cannot not care for others we share this world with,” Ober said.

Not only does the new garden allow the community to grow food for needy, it also brings people in touch with earth itself, Ober said. “It reminds us of where we came from and who we are,” Ober said.

“She is an amazing person and has a great passion for this,” Ober said of Wolfsen.

The land before the garden was a derelict playground set, and many people thought it would be put to better use as a garden, Wolfsen said.

There is a contract that gardeners must sign before they receive their plots. Some of the requirements the contract states are that people cannot bring guns to the garden, grow illegal substances, be kind to your neighbors and remove weeds, Wolfsen said.

“Becoming self-sustaining is a good thing for the earth,” Wolfsen said. The garden, whose vegetables contain no pesticides, allows for people to learn how to garden organically, Wolfsen said.

Wolfsen said good and fresh food is not only for the rich. People can use fresh produce in their meals without spending too much money by gardening.

“It is nice to be able to give back,” Wolfsen said. “We can teach them how to garden, while also giving back to our neighbors.”

The garden signifies the church in action and their ability to be active in serving the community, Mike Wolfsen said.

Natalie Veissalov can be reached at natalie.veissalov@laverne.edu.

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