October 12, 2016

Cool Congregations Sustainable Food – Midway Christian Church

Midway Christian Church in Midway, Kentucky has been on a path towards greater sustainability for years. In 2010 they joined the Green Chalice Program which provides Disciples of Christ communities with opportunities to live our their faith by caring for creation.     Midway Christian Church was looking for ways to lower the impact of their food choices on the environment.

One member of the congregation is a professional chef. With her help, and with the support of the community, Midway Christian Church was able to do several projects related to food and food justice.   The congregation began to look at making more earth-friendly food choices in several areas including gleaning and food recovery, composting and locally sources ingredients all with an emphasis on educating the community on how better food choices can be made and what options were available to congregants.

Many results have come about from their new food choices.   – The church has begun to glean twice a year at a local orchard and donate all food to Glean Kentucky or Go’s Pantry – They have hosted all-locally sources Sunday dinners in honor of Earth Day. – They now use locally source hogs for their annual Epiphany dinner. – They host breakfasts for the families of marathon runners using all locally milled grain products – The chef has begun to bring leftovers from her restaurant to church functions to prevent food waste – All food scraps from the church are now composted for local gardens – In addition to these food choices the church has switched to all eco-friendly disposable flatware

Members of Midway Christian Church believe that stewardship of creation is what they are called to do. They believe that god gave man dominion but that dominion is truly a partnership with the Earth.   This church realized that our industrial food systems have one of the largest impacts of all man made systems on the health of the planet and the environment. They wanted to act as better stewards of creation and make changes.

Midway Christian Church entered this project into the Cool Congregations Challenge.  If you have a great project going on at your congregation enter it into the 2016 challenge an you could win your congregation $1,000!

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October 11, 2016

What is a Food Swamp?

A new phrase is showing up around the discussions of food deserts. Food Swamp.

Food Swamps are communities that are flooded with unhealthy, highly processed, low-nutrient food combined with no access to healthier food within walking distance.

To get a better understanding of the difference watch this short film from The Perennial Plate

 

Faith communities that reside in area that are known to be food deserts or food swaps have an opportunity to make huge nutritional difference in their neighborhoods. Starting or supporting community gardens or hosting farmers markets or CSA drop offs can dramatically increase access to fresh wholesome food to your community.

 

Posted by in Food, Food insecurity and tagged as

October 10, 2016

Cool Congregation Gardens – St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church

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St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lacey, Washington entered the 2015 Cool Congregations Challenge with their Community Garden.

Their church had slightly over an acre of land that had been fallow and unused for years. One of their church members really wanted to instill a love of the planet into the Sunday School kids so they started vegetable seedlings and planted them in the back lot.

A small group was formed in 2011 from the church and many skeptical members watched from the sidelines (“How are they going to do an ORGANIC garden?”) Kiwanis of Olympia had three large Food Bank gardens and they helped the church set up low pressure irrigation that irrigated just the crops, they supplied them with seed potatoes for 2000 row feet, explained how to harvest, and supplied some equipment. A core group of volunteers worked very hard in 2011, & 2012 to weed and maintain the garden and at the end of the second summer the skeptical members were very impressed! Their ranks of volunteers and monetary supporters continues to grow. They are fully pesticide free, and all organic.

What started as a Sunday School class planting veggie starts is now a well established Community Garden with 46 raised beds offered free to community members (drip irrigation included) each growing season, and over an acre of cultivated land which grew 9100 pounds of produce for the Thurston County Food Bank. This brings our total since 2010 to 33,600 pounds. They believe others find inspiration in this project from the diverse partnerships that have been formed.

Today they have a vibrant, community-based, environmentally sensitive garden where learning, relationship building, fun, and very hard work all come together.   Lacey Parks and Recreation dept. advertises their free raised beds and we have many more community members than church members using their raised beds and helping in the Food Bank garden.   Mountain View Elementary, a large elementary school across the street, working with the Food Bank educator, sent 22 field trips for a total of 700 children to the garden this past spring to plant veggie starts and seeds, identify and taste fresh veggies, and have a healthy snack . The children were ecstatic to plant, grow and harvest vegetables, as well as learn how vegetables can not only be weird and beautiful, but also nutritious for the body. Several kids stated that “This is the BEST field trip ever!”   GOD’S work, OUR Hands. Komachin middle school science department grew broccoli and cabbage starts for them as part of their science curriculum. Cooking classes, provided by a grant, were also provided to all classes by Food Bank educator and their members using garden produce and other food.

“Our Members are very proud of our lovely garden space and some community members like to stroll through the raised bed garden, sit at our picnic table, and just enjoy nature.”

 

St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church entered this project into the Cool Congregations Challenge.  If you have a great project going on at your congregation enter it into the 2016 challenge an you could win your congregation $1,000!

October 9, 2016

The Shalom Park Community Garden – Temple Beth El

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Temple Beth El and four other Jewish organizations on Shalom Park in Charlotte, NC came together in 2015 to launch Shalom Green, the Shalom Park Environmental Initiative and created the Shalom Park Community Garden as a key component of the initiative. Shalom Park is a 54 acre campus, which is home to two synagogues, a Jewish Community Center, several schools, and a number of other Jewish agencies. The goals of Shalom Green include reducing the carbon footprint of buildings and operations on Shalom Park, providing environmental education, and sparking community-wide conversation about and action toward environmental sustainability. Temple Beth El and its Shalom Green partners needed a central, collaborative project, which would provide opportunities for environmental education, connect congregants with the natural world and serve as a visual reminder of the community’s broader sustainability efforts. The Shalom Park Community Garden provided a perfect solution.

As a result of these efforts, an unused lawn was converted into a functioning outdoor classroom and organic garden. Volunteers built ten raised beds for vegetables, whose yield will be donated to a local meals on wheels program, and several in-ground beds, which contain plants of Jewish significance, such as pomegranate and fig trees, herbs and grape vines. All soil, seeds, plants and fertilizers are organic, and irrigation for individual beds was designed to minimize water usage. Plants were selected and placed to offer opportunities for lessons in organic gardening, pollinators, companion planting and natural pest control. Lessons in the garden combine practical instruction in organic gardening techniques with a discussion of Jewish environmental values and larger issues related to living sustainably and protecting the planet. In its first months, the garden engaged youth from from synagogue religious schools and youth groups, the Charlotte Jewish Day School, the Charlotte Jewish Preschool and a Jewish Community Center Teen Camp in environmental learning. Future plans include educational opportunities for families and older adults as well. More than 150 young people and adults participated as students and volunteers in the inaugural season of the Shalom Park Community Garden, and spring and summer gardening seasons will bring opportunities to engage and educate even larger segments of the Shalom Park population.

The obligation to preserve the earth for future generations is deeply rooted in Torah and Jewish tradition; yet, being good “stewards of Creation” is not always easy and is not always foremost in our minds. Temple Beth El was inspired in our efforts by a congregant, who said the thing that keeps him up at night is his concern about the future of our planet. They were inspired by the shared enthusiasm of Jewish organizations across Shalom Park for the opportunity to learn about and implement changes to make our congregations and community more sustainable. And they were inspired by Judaism’s profound respect for and connection to the natural world to bring Jews of different affiliations and Jews of no affiliation together in pursuit of our common environmental values. By participating in Shalom Green and the Shalom Park Community Garden, Temple Beth El is working to focus the congregation’s attention on the critical need to protect our planet, with the goal of creating meaningful changes in the way we live our lives as individuals and as a congregation.

Temple Beth El entered this project into the Cool Congregations Challenge.  If you have a great project going on at your congregation enter it into the 2016 challenge an you could win your congregation $1,000!

 

October 7, 2016

Arkansas IPL and the Promise Garden

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Arkansas IPL has partnered with GardenCorps, Ark. Community Foundation, The Team of Neighbors That Love, and volunteers from Little Rock area churches at the Promise Garden in a low-income neighborhood for the past year. They brought in a dump truck load of soil, planted crops, added mulch, pulled weeds, watered, harvested, offered cooking classes, cooked together, shared meals, and saved seeds for the next planting season.
They  expanded and improved a chicken coop. We added 20 chickens that lay eggs. Neighbors who work in the garden take home the produce and the eggs.

In conjunction with the garden, Ark. IPL donated gift bags with CFL bulbs, power strips, faucet aerators, and socket sealers to clients of the Food Pantry at the 12th St. Clinic. Our partners were Ark. University for Medical Sciences and Vacation Bible School at 2nd Presbyterian Church in Little Rock.

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