Shortly after Memorial Day, St. Paul, Pontiac opened its “Father’s Hands Community Garden.” Several neighbors welcomed the opportunity to grow plants in the garden or take bags of garden soil and plants to grow at home. The community garden was an idea of St. Paul’s board president, Carol Christenson. She reasoned that even if someone did not have a yard for a garden, they might have a small balcony or patch of ground for a container and grow a tomato plant or other vegetable. Many of the seeds, plants, and materials for the garden were donated by friends from St. Matthew, Walled Lake and St. Paul’s youth group and leaders, Annie Arnott and Lindsay Patton.
St. Paul’s youth group, Living Waters, helped plant, water, and keep the garden weed free on a weekly basis. During one session of weeding, one of three strawberry plants had a single little berry on it. Some of the younger children from the community had never seen strawberries on the vine and they were eager to be chosen to taste, but it was awarded to one young boy who helped the youth group pull weeds.
On another day, a new neighbor visited and was very interested in learning how to plant a garden of her own. When offered a row in the garden to plant more vegetables, she was excited to do so and moved to say, “I am new to the area and might even be interested in bringing my family to your church.” She was also interested in her children attending Vacation Bible School and other programs offered by St. Paul’s.
The community garden has a positive effect on the members as well as their neighbors. In his poem Who Makes A Garden, American poet Douglas Malloch (1877-1932) pens “and he who makes a garden works hand and hand with God.” St. Paul’s, through its Father’s Hands Community Garden, is working side by side with neighbors, opening doors to form new relationships that extend the love of Christ through God’s creation.