A look at our first year of Gardening with Grace, by Sister Pam

It’s hard to believe that summer is now a memory and the growing season is coming to a close, although the garden is still producing tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, carrots, herbs and flowers. At the same time, we are already planning next year’s garden. The seasons change but the gardener always gardens.

The children taught us adults so many marvelous lessons while working in the garden. We learned that it was just fine to remain flexible when planting the garden. So what if the cucumbers were actually zucchini, we enjoyed them just the same. We learned that little people are better at finding tomatoes hidden in the bush than big people. We learned the absolute excitement of learning about pollinators, collecting seeds and picking produce. We learned the joy of sharing with others. Everyone enjoyed the stories and preparing a healthy snack. We all shared the enthusiasm of sowing and growing food. Every week brought something new, always linked to a Bible lesson.

Before the snow blows for good this year we will finish harvesting, clean the garden and plant some bulbs and plants for next year. We are all so thankful to God for this great learning opportunity, for all the people working together and to the NDSU-Extension for the grant to get us off to a good start. 


August 28, 2015

August 26, 2015

Look at the bounty of our garden!  This week we gave our ripe vegetable to the Salvation Army food pantry.  

Tonight at Gardening with Grace from Sister Pam: "Tonight I had three children for gardening. We had a great time. It was Jessie, Kevin, and Darien.   First we looked at the scripture about not being anxious because the birds of the air have everything that they need. I had an Oriole nest that fell down in the big storm we had a couple weeks ago. They were very interested in it especially Kevine. We picked more tomatoes and talked about next year's garden. We did more seed collecting which they enjoy very much. We picked marigolds and nicotiana seeds and made cards for their mothers."

August 7, 2015

 Over the last month our garden has really grown.  We have had to joy of watching the children pick lettuce, tomato, herbs, peppers. and zucchini from the garden to prepare in the church kitchen.  Some of our vegetables were used in Sunday Night Praise.  This was one of the goals we had set forth at the beginning of our project, and we were happy to see it become a reality.  The lessons in July centered on butterflies and bees.  We talked about becoming a new creation in Christ.  We talked about the lifecycle of the bee, and we enjoyed honey treats.  A favorite among the kids was the tea party we had one Wednesday night with camellia tea and honey. 

Adam loves to water our garden, and he is one of the best at finding ripe vegetables. 

Some of the wonderful vegetables from our garden.

We are proud of our salad and thankful to God that we were able to grow it.


Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


July 1, 2015-  Three Sisters

Tonight Brandy shared with us some of the gardening practices of Native Americans.  She read to the children the story of Buffalo Bird Girl which is the story of her own great grandmother.  

She also introduced the children to the The Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash.  Planting these crops together allows each plant to benefit from the other plants.  The stalk of corn supports the climbing beans.  The squash prevents weeds from taking over the other plants, and the beans provide nitrogen to the soil for the health of all the plants.  Brandy talked about the body of Christ being the same way.  Each of us is a different part of the body (I Corinthians 12:27).  We are not all the same, but our differences bless one another.  Together we can accomplish much good in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Brandy provided the children with traditional Native foods including jerky, blueberries, and a dish containing the three sisters.



We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.

We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.

We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.

We return thanks to the moon and stars, which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.

We return thanks to the sun, that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.

Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in Whom is embodied all goodness, and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.

 

Iroquois Prayer, adapted

 

June 24, 2015- Bunnies and Boundaries


Tonight was all about rabbits. We began by weeding our garden and harvesting our first vegetables, cilantro and lettuce. We went inside to hear a Guatemalan folktale featuring a rabbit and a crab and then the classic English story of Peter Rabbit. In each story, we talked about respecting boundaries.  A rabbit has eaten most of our cabbage, and we discussed how to take care of this problem. We will be adding chicken wire around some of our vegetables to create a boundary between the vegetables and the rabbit.

After a slide show about Guatemalan farming practices, we ate toasted corn tortillaswith rice and beans. We added our own lettuce and cilantro, and some mangos and lime. It was yummy.


June 17, 2015- Gardens Teach Us About Contentment

Our economy is driven by short term gratification, and children feel the pressure "to have more" just like adults.  Tonight at Gardening with Grace we talked about contentment.  Paul says to the church of Philippi, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."  That is a nice goal.  Learning to care for our own needs, as with gardening,  leads to contentment.

Tonight we read an African folktale about Anansi the Spider.  In the midst of a famine, Anansi went from village to village searching for better and better food.  Although he and his family were starving, he was not content with ordinary fare (the entire story can be read here ).  In the end, Anansi had nothing.  As we read through the story,  the children ate plantains, boiled rice, and roasted sweet potatoes, foods that had appeared in the story. We talked about contentment, and the children had wise and good things to share.

At the end of our lesson, Sister Pam shared seashells she had collected from her trip to California with each of the children.  She explained the Christian significance of the scallop seashell.

June 10, 2015- WHy do We Plant Gardens?

This week we concentrated on the kitchen. Learning to cook what we grow in the garden is an important aspect of our program.  Although it is too early in the season to cook our own fruits and vegetables, there is nothing wrong with learning to prepare fruits and vegetables from the grocery store.  

The children were divided into three cooking teams.  Each team made a vegetable or fruit snack to share with the entire group. One group macerated apples in freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice.  Another team made fruit kabobs, and the last group prepared a peanut butter dip for our carrots and fresh green beans.  All of the recipes were easy to make and something the kids could prepare independently.  As a group, we discussed why people grow gardens and why it is important to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. What we put in our bodies is important. This led to our discussion on Luke 6:45. What a person puts into her heart is what comes out of her mouth. In the same way that we wish to put healthy foods in our bodies, so too do we wish to put healthy thoughts into our minds.  

"Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks!"

Our children did a wonderful job cooking, trying new foods, and being positive with one another.   

Link to recipes:

Peanut Butter Sauce

Citrus Soaked Apple Slices

June 3, 2015- Dirt Week

Ever notice the bald patches in the church yard?  Well, tonight we planted grass seed in those areas.  The kids partnered up; one child loosened the dirt and another planted the seed.  

Next, we discussed farming practices in first century Israel. We talked about breaking up the land with a plow and ox,  sowing seeds, and the types of crops Jewish people grew. Then we discussed the Parable of Sower.  This parable reminds us that as evangelist we need to be prepared for a variety of responses from people.  It is our job to share God's love.  What happiness when sometimes we reap a harvest a hundred times more than that which was sown! 

Next, Sister Pam and the children planted grass seed in three separate pots with different types of soil; good soil, thorny soil, and rocky soil. Each pot was taken home by a different family. The families will water the grass seed each day, and next week we will see how the grass grows in each soil condition.

Help us, Lord, to make wise use of the gift of soil.


Update on our garden: Some seeds have sprouted. Our cilantro and lettuce plants needed thinning.  



May 2015 -Planting

 We began our season with a Blessing of the Garden by Father Bart.  

 

The children chose the fruits and vegetables that they wished to grow. Pumpkins and cucumbers were popular choices. Around the cement table in the church yard, we read a book about a Chinese boy named Ping.  Ping wanted to grow the best flower he could for the Emperor of China. Even though his seed refused to grow, Ping acted with integrity. Ping's Father said, "You did your best, Ping, and that is good enough for the Emperor."  We talked about Colossians 3:23. Our garden is for God's glory, and we will do the best we can. Our best is always good enough for God.  (Book link: The Empty Pot).  

With adult assistance, the kids planted the garden.     

After planting, we cleaned our garden tools, our hands, and the bathroom sink. Then it was snack time; lemonade and popcorn. Sister Pam taught the children about nutrition, seed variety, and even gave a short lesson on diversity. We also discussed the science and history of popcorn.  

Next week we will talk about soil care and study the "Parable of the Sower."  All children are welcome.  

"Lord, creator of all things, we thank you for the abundant gift of all varieties of seeds.  In Christ’s name, Amen.