‘Lord’s Acre’ Provides Healthy Harvest for Baytown
St. Mark’s UMC Baytown is investing in the young by planting more than just the physical seeds in the new Lord’s Acre community garden project.
Rev. Peter Miller, St. Mark’s UMC, Baytown, knows that community partnerships provide an accelerated way to facilitate impact while becoming more externally focused as a congregation. “I would love to see us have 100 partnerships,” he says, enthusiastically. One of St. Mark’s most recent local partnerships has literally been blooming before their eyes in recent months.
According to associate pastor, Rev. Raegan Seaton, the local missions committee began discussing the idea of a community garden several years ago. Notes Raegan, “We knew we had the space, but questions remained: How could we take care of it properly? Who would oversee the project? What kinds of plants would we grow? What would we do with the produce that we harvested? Leaders initially tabled the idea, but began the process of trying to make the idea a reality.
In January of 2014, a teacher at Ross S. Sterling High School, one of the three high schools in Baytown, approached a fellow teacher and member of St. Mark’s mission’s committee -- about a community garden at the church! Notes Raegan, “The life skills teachers were hoping to have a garden that the students could manage and tend, but they did not have a good location. They were hoping we might have the space at the church. It was a perfect match! The community garden was going to work!”
Schoolteachers and committee members met and decided to create “The Lord’s Acre.” After approval from the trustees, committee members built 17 raised planters with a central raised walkway behind the church. The students began coming to the garden twice a week to plant and tend the beds.
Welcoming the Third Partner
As Joyce Parker at Faith Presbyterian shares, “Faith Presbyterian Church and St. Marks United Methodist Church are located across Main Street from each other in Baytown. While St. Mark’s has generously donated food to our Faith Food Pantry for many years, we are so grateful to them for providing a parcel of land behind their church for students from Ross S. Sterling High School to plant and harvest fresh vegetables. Once again, Faith Presbyterian has been the recipient of those fresh vegetables to share with our clients at the food pantry. God has truly blessed us through the friendship, fellowship and love of St. Marks and we are forever grateful!”
Pastors agree that the community garden is a wonderful collaboration. Members of St. Mark’s maintain the garden by making necessary repairs to the gate, walkway, and fence, trying to keep weeds under control, adding more planters to make 19, and providing irrigation and new dirt. The students from Sterling plant the vegetables and tend to the garden twice a week. They harvest the produce and deliver it to the church staff. Church staff members wash the produce and deliver it to Faith Presbyterian Church to be distributed on Tuesdays and Thursdays to their clients. Even the children in the St. Mark’s day school are involved; recently they released 1,500 ladybugs to help the garden.
Adds Rev. Miller, “The ‘Lord’s Acre’ is thriving as a three-way partnership and is truly a blessing to our community.”