Oakwood’s new church garden project aims to sow the seeds of community

March 14 – The four men in the garden were not members of a gardening club, nor were they particularly skilled at landscaping. But they spent nearly a year preparing a 1-acre parcel of land near their church for anyone to plant seeds, literally and figuratively.

Community garden

What: 1 acre of flowerbeds and farmland for community use

Where: McEver Road United Methodist Church, 5226 McEver Road, Oakwood

More information: mceverumc.org/campus#CommunityGarden

Richard Baker, Rick Brown, Mike Stewart and John Wright, all longtime parishioners of the McEver Road United Methodist Church in Oakwood, all wore caps on their heads to block out the morning sun as they worked the land.

Along with Debbie Phillips and Jim Prezel, the crew behind the church’s community garden project worked to bring the idea to life day by day, “piece by piece,” said Tyler Jackson, the church’s chief pastor since July 2022. .

“(There) are always little things they’re working on,” she said.

Many churchgoers contributed to the project, according to Jackson, but the core group was “dedicated” to the idea of ​​having a community gathering place from the start.

“It was a whole congregation that played a part in this project,” said Wright, who has been a member of McEver Road United Methodist Church for 30 years. “It will be fulfilling when people start coming here and start gardening. It will be amazing.”

The project, a community garden on the church’s 10-acre campus grounds, will allow people to sign inexpensive annual contracts for somewhere to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.

Prices are meant to help support the garden, with all funds going to the project, not the church, according to Jackson, who said he often hears from people whether or not they can plant everything from blueberry bushes and roses to apple trees. and fig trees.

“This is our first rodeo and we’re just figuring out the kinks,” Jackson said. “This is both a community and a garden.”

Leases range from $25 to $75 for the year. For those who want to farm their plot, there is a $15 fee for semi-annual ground work in preparation for the best times of year for planting in Georgia.

Applications are open to both churchgoers and community members at mceverumc.org/campus#CommunityGarden.

In addition to the leased plots, plots are planned for local high and middle school work, a pollination garden for growing flowers, a compost plot, a specific plot for vegetables and fruit to be donated to local food pantries and other churches and spaces intended for future plots. A ramp will also be built at the entrance to the garden for accessibility to the disabled.

“We want to offer a respite, a little sanctuary where people can gather and enjoy themselves,” added Stewart, a 34-year parishioner of McEver Road United Methodist Church.

Brown calls the garden “a place where people can get away from it all,” while Baker said, “We’re a church that realizes that if we’re going to continue to bear witness to this community, we need to be together with the community in many different ways. ”

The group, including Phillips and Prezel, are all retired and have found a new way to keep busy while still coming together for a good cause.

“I earned a lot more from this project than I gave,” said Wright.

“I hope people come out and are excited about the project,” said Jackson, a husband and father of three. “It’s really starting to feel like a collaborative effort.”

He and his family have bought land and he said his children are looking forward to “playing in the land soon.”

“We’re involved in the garden too, not just as a pastor, but as a family in the community,” Jackson said.