First

Congregational

Church

of Dodge Center, Minnesota

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WHAT'S TO LOVE ABOUT A CHURCH GARDEN

  1. They are places to learn.  Participating at, or even visiting, a community garden provides the opportunity to learn from experienced gardeners.  Walk through a community garden with someone who gardens there, and you'll likely end up full of question for him or her ("What's that vegetable?" "What's that bug?" "Is that a weed?")
  2. They are places to befriend your neighbors and fellow church members.  We live in an era in which, for many of us, our neighbors and fellow church members are strangers.  Community gardens draw members together by providing the opportunity to meet and work beside people who might not encounter otherwise.  The community garden spans across both generational and cultural divides and provides an opportunity to experience God's bounty as it grows.
  3. They are sites for restoring and building health.  There is a fair amount of literature that points to the health benefits of gardening and spending time in nature.  Studies have shown therapeutic benefits for people recovering from psychological ailments such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; mental and emotional benefits for aging seniors; and improved attention in children with Attention Deficit Disorder.  In fact, there is a horticultural therapy field dedicated to using gardening as a tool for healing.  Gardening is also considered mild to moderate exercise.
  4. They are places for children (and adults!) to explore nature in the middle of urban areas. Spend 5 minutes at a community garden, and you’ll find birds, plants and insects at all stages of life--a vibrant ecosystem in action. Gardening has been shown to provide a plethora of benefits in children, including improved attitudes toward healthy food, improved understanding of life science concepts, and improved interpersonal skills. 
  5. They provide space to carry on our food cultures. Food is a powerful element of tradition. Community gardens provide the opportunity to grow, eat, share, and celebrate one’s traditional foods--even far away from one’s homeland, or when one has been disconnected from his or her heritage. This ability to produce and consume one’s traditional foods, known as food sovereignty, is empowering and is important to our quality of life

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