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A Time for Everything: Perspiring in Your Garden

There is a Time for Everything, and a Season for Every Activity Under Heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Pointing Forward:

So let’s consider the 5 P’s of gardening:




Picking, and

Putting to bed.

We’ve planned, we’ve planted, and if we haven’t already, now is the time to Perspire!

Once you have planted your garden, there are no two ways about it—keeping a garden in good shape is hard work! But gardening can also help keep you in good shape! One way to work through the toil of hoeing and pulling weeds is to think of it as part of your daily workout. Yes, you can count working in the garden as part of your regular exercise routine! In fact, it can be part of a weight loss plan if you are so inclined. It is estimated that most people will use about 230 calories per hour while gardening. Of course, that varies from person to person and depends on how hard you are working. If you’d like to get more specific for your body weight, height and gender, the following website might be helpful:

Of course, most of us may not use gardening as a weight loss plan. Another way to approach the work of gardening is to use your time in the garden as a time of meditation. Some may choose to meditate on scripture during their gardening time. One verse you might use as a source of contemplation is Psalm 128:2 which states:

“You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours” (NIV).

The often sweaty work of maintaining gardens and fields has been part of the spiritual discipline of men and women religious in monasteries and convents for centuries. St. Benedict, for example, believed that they should rejoice in this labor, “for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands, as did also our forefathers and the Apostles” (Rule of St. Benedict, #48). Martin Luther was no fan of monasteries, but he, too, believed that tending to fields and gardens was work that was “pleasing to God [and] instituted by God” (Luther, Lectures on Genesis.) For both monastics and Luther, digging, planting, and harvesting provided an opportunity to reflect on God’s good creation—and to participate in it.

If you are planning to donate some of your harvest to the local food bank, you might consider meditating on Acts 20:35: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” (NIV).

I also think that gardening is part of a commonsense approach to life that gives us all tools to help God help us through the production of our own food supply. So, when I am in that mode, I contemplate Proverbs 12:11: “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense” (NIV). Sort of a bit of humor thrown in at the end of that verse!

What is involved in keeping your garden in good shape?

There are four basic steps in keeping a garden in good shape once it is planted:

  1. Watering;
  2. Fertilizing;
  3. Weed control; and
  4. Pest control.

For watering the general rule of thumb for most gardens is that you need the equivalent of about 1 inch of rain per week. If you are in a dry climate, this amount may be a bit higher. One deep watering that gets to the roots of the plants is more efficient and has a better hydrating effect than does several light waterings. Consider using a soaker hose that you might leave on the garden for an extended time. Some gardeners have developed an automated drip system that can be place in ground to help direct the water to the plant’s root system.

Linking Back

Remember when we discussed composting in the second blog in this series? The second step in keeping your garden in good shape is fertilizing. If you have been composting all Winter and Spring, you may have a great source of fertilizer in your compost bin. You will need to apply compost or fertilizer every 3-4 weeks during the growing season. There are also several very good fertilizers on the market. One that my sister-in-law uses is Happy Frog ( It really is an asset with vegetables. We have had good success using this with tomatoes.

Weed control can be taxing. One good way to stay ahead of weeds is by using mulch, such as leaves, bark, or hay. We used an old rug several years to cover big spaces. These mulching methods cover the areas where weeds might grow and make it difficult for weeds to find sunlight to nourish their development.

But we are almost always forced to weed. One good way is to wait until you’ve watered, then pull the weeds by hand when the soil is still moist and the weed is more likely to come out by the root. If you get the entire root, that weed will not be able grow back.

Pest control may be an issue. Hand picking small insect invasions is helpful but does not always solve the problem. Trying biological methods such as ladybugs may help offset some insect infestations, such as aphids. For more ways of dealing with specific pests, the following website may be useful:

For more information about these steps you might want to access the following website:

Now let’s consider a recipe using this year’s early harvest. If you planted your potatoes early, by July you may have some small potato tubers ready to harvest. If your peas are doing well, you may have some pea pods ready to pick. One of our family favorites is creamed new potatoes and peas with the early season harvest that was a delicious addition to our Fourth of July celebration meal. You may substitute the milk and cream in the recipe below with vegetable stock and/or a non-dairy milk such as almond milk to provide a vegan option. You may also substitute margarine for butter. To make this a gluten-free option, you can use cornstarch as a thickener instead of flour. Make sure you mix the cornstarch with cold water before stirring the cornstarch mixture into the liquid ingredients.

Until next time, remember,

There is a Time for Everything, and a Season for Every Activity Under Heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Blessings to you!

Creamed Garden Potatoes and Peas

TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 25 min.

MAKES: 12 servings


  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter (margarine may be substituted)
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups 2% milk (non-fat milk, vegetable stock, or non-dairy milk may be substituted)
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream (non-fat milk, vegetable stock, or non-dairy milk may be substituted)


  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-12 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, place peas and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  3. In a large saucepan, sauté onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until blended; gradually add milk and cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in potatoes and peas; heat through. Yield: 12 servings.


Nutritional Information (per 2/3 cup serving)

Calories: 156

Fat: 5g (3g saturated fat)

Cholesterol: 18mg

Sodium: 345mg

Carbohydrates: 22g (6g sugars, 3g fiber)

Protein: 6g

Diabetic exchanges: 1½ starch, 1 fat

In this series by guest writer Ethan Bergman, we will consider the 5 P’s of gardening – planning, planting, perspiring, picking, and putting to bed – over the course of the next few months. Ethan is a Master of Divinity student in the Distributive Learning program at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Bergman is also the associate dean in the College of Education and Professional Studies and professor of food science and nutrition at Central Washington University, Ellensburg. He was named CWU Distinguished University Professor in 2001-2002 and was named by the Washington State Dietetic Association as Outstanding Registered Dietitian of the Year in 2000. He is a past delegate and past President of the American Dietetic Association as well as speaker of the Academy’s House of Delegates. He has served on the Academy’s Educator’s Task Force on Education Reform in Dietetics Education and on the Evidence-Based Practice Committee. Bergman earned his doctorate from Washington State University.


Photo by Tori Soper, a Chicago Commercial photographer specializing in corporate and editorial photography as well as event coverage for meetings and conventions.

A Time for Everything: Planting Your Garden



There is a Time for Everything, and a Season for Every Activity Under Heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt


In the first post in this series on planning your garden, we named the 5 P’s of gardening:




Picking, and

Putting to bed.

So what time is it now? It is time to plant your garden!

Pointing Forward

What I love about planting is that planting seeds is really a metaphor of our lives as Children of God. As Children of God, we have the opportunity to plant seeds of love and hope in those around us. In many cases we have no idea how that planted seed will develop. Here is a link to an uplifting song about planting seeds:

You may select to plant your garden at your home, or perhaps you are considering a community garden.  If a community garden doesn’t currently exist, or it exists but it is too far away, you might consider starting your own. Take a look at ELCA World Hunger’s Community Gardens How-To Guide to get started:  This resource provides guidance on how to go about pulling together the resources for the community to use.

As stated in this resource, gardening is a beautiful expression of God’s diversity because gardens come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and scales, from urban plots to rural fields.  In almost any circumstance, a person may be able to have a garden because of the diversity of gardens.

The last few years, we have opted to plant our tomatoes in pots on our patio. We did this for several reasons, but largely to make the process more contained and easier to manage. We could see the status of the plants more easily than previously because the tomatoes were right outside our back door, where we go in and out many times a day. Checking the tomatoes became part of going into and out of the house. Pots could even be part of an indoor garden, if you so choose.  Personally, I love the appearance and aromas associated with new growth of plants so an indoor garden plot is certainly something to consider, especially if you have limited space outdoors.

Once you’ve decided where to plant, some preparation is required. You want to give the fetal plants the best chance of surviving and flourishing so that you can harvest a great abundance later in the Summer or Fall.

Planting a garden reminds me of Mark 4:3-8, where the farmer scatters seed in four different locations. First, he scattered the seed along the path, then in rocky places, and then among the thorns. Of course, none of these seeds produced much of anything because the place of the planting did not support the growth of the plant.

Finally, the farmer got it right and sowed the seeds on good soil. And that is what we want to do. How do we ensure that the soil is good and will support growth and development of the plants?

There are several options to enrich the soil with nutrients to enhance plant growth. Composting is a great way of using your own yard and kitchen wastes to develop your soil. There are many good websites to use for composting instructions. Try Composting Junkie at

Composting is about taking the nutrients that are found in yard waste—such as leaves—and kitchen waste—such as onion skins, potato skins, and other vegetable wastes—and ‘digesting’ these wastes using billions of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) found in the soils. The structure of the leaves is broken down by the microorganisms into smaller substances that the germinating seeds and sprouts can use for nourishment and growth.

Composting can be done simply by mixing the wastes with soil and adding water in bins or in piles. Many people use rotating bins so that the mixture of wastes can be rotated to increase the rate of breakdown of the waste products.

Once the waste has degraded to a rich, soil-like consistency, it may be added to your growing area as a type of natural fertilizer.

Linking Back

In the last post, we used some of the crops we had stored over the winter to make a mashed potato soup, using potatoes, onions and some garlic and herbs.

In today’s recipe, we will still rely on last year’s root crops while adding some diversity to the offerings. Roasted Root Vegetables are a favorite of our family and can be prepared at any time of the year. Because the bulk of the recipe ingredients come from root vegetables, these may come from last year’s crop that you have stored in cool, dry places over the winter.

It is also easy to add variety to this recipe because you can throw in almost any of your favorite veggies to mix it up a bit. In the recipe below, we use all root vegetables, yet you could add squash or brussel sprouts or any other substantial vegetable for color, flavor and variety.

Until next time, remember,

There is a Time for Everything, and a Season for Every Activity Under Heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1


Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Glaze

This dish is vegan and gluten-free and originally appeared in Cooking Light.


1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) slices carrot

1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) slices parsnip

1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled turnip

4 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, tossing well to coat. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Stir in syrup. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until tender and golden, stirring after 10 minutes.


4 servings (1/2 cup)

Nutritional information (per serving)

Calories 150 (30% from fat)

Fat 4.9 g

Saturated fat 0.7 g

Monounsaturated fat 3.3 g

Polyunsaturated fat 0.6 g

Protein 1.7 g

Carbohydrate 26.1 g

Fiber 3.8 g

Cholesterol 0.0 mg

Iron 0.8 mg

Sodium 379 mg

Calcium 63 mg


In this series by guest writer Ethan Bergman, we will consider the 5 P’s of gardening – planning, planting, perspiring, picking, and putting to bed – over the course of the next few months. Ethan is a Master of Divinity student in the Distributive Learning program at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Bergman is also the associate dean in the College of Education and Professional Studies and professor of food science and nutrition at Central Washington University, Ellensburg. He was named CWU Distinguished University Professor in 2001-2002 and was named by the Washington State Dietetic Association as Outstanding Registered Dietitian of the Year in 2000. He is a past delegate and past President of the American Dietetic Association as well as speaker of the Academy’s House of Delegates. He has served on the Academy’s Educator’s Task Force on Education Reform in Dietetics Education and on the Evidence-Based Practice Committee. Bergman earned his doctorate from Washington State University.


Top Fall Tips for “Growing” Your Community Garden





Community gardens are a great way to build community and provide nutritious food for your congregation and your neighbors. This week, ELCA World Hunger is grateful to welcome Ed Merrell as a guest blogger to offer his expert tips for community gardeners as we move into the fall and winter. Ed is an Independent Seeds Professional. He engages with seed-centric charity organizations and other agricultural groups. In this capacity, he applies his extensive seed industry skills and experience to provide relevant information and solutions.

His 35+ year career in the vegetable and flower seed industry included plant breeding to develop new and improved varieties, domestic and international seed production, quality assurance and seed testing, seed processing plant operation, and quality information systems. Ed is a member of Advent Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Morgan Hill, Calif.

If you are planning a new garden or growing an existing garden, ELCA World Hunger’s Community Gardens How-To Guide is a great resource to help! It has practical advice and suggestions from community gardeners across the ELCA, along with resources for tying your congregation’s garden to your worship life through prayer and education.

Download ELCA World Hunger’s Community Gardens How-To Guide:;

Order a free printed copy:

For community gardens, autumn is a productive time. If your congregation already has a community garden, activities could include finishing the harvest and assessing the gardening year. Or, if your congregation is thinking about creating a community garden, it could be a good time to start planning.

  1. Review the Past Season

Congregations with established community gardens can consider updating their garden map showing what crop was grown where and how productive each crop was. If you sowed seed, did it germinate well? Were pest problems observed such as soil-borne organisms like cutworms, flying insects, or animals? Were preventative actions taken and what were the results? Did any plant diseases occur? All the information you gather can be added to your previous community garden experience in that location and will help you plan for next year.


  1. Tap Local Expertise

If you have not already connected to a source of local gardening expertise, consider contacting the County Cooperative Extension office or the Master Gardener organization.  These experts share firsthand knowledge of local growing conditions, vegetable varieties adapted to your area, fertilization and watering recommendations, and pests and how to control them.

  1. Update Your Planting Plan

Use your garden maps from previous seasons to plan crop rotation and avoid planting the same vegetable in the same space. A 3-year rotation plan is often recommended. Crop rotation reduces the likelihood of diseases on next year’s plants and promotes healthy soil. If you have remnant seed of a variety that germinated well and yielded tasty produce, you may want to sow that same seed again next season. By storing the seed packets in a cool, dry place, you preserve the seed viability and improve the chances that the seed will germinate well next year.

  1. Re-vision and Re-imagine

Successful community gardens start with a vision. As you plan for next season, ask these questions. Is the community garden fulfilling the vision statement that you wrote? Does it meet a community need? Is the congregation support sufficient in terms of volunteers and financial resources? The next few months are a good time to consider these questions and assess what worked well, what needs to be improve, and make plans for next year.

  1. Get Started!

If your congregation is discerning whether to create a community garden, the ELCA World Hunger Community Gardens How-To Guide (download:; order printed copy: is a great place to begin.  In autumn, planting time seems far away. But it’s never too early to start creating a community garden. As the guide describes, understanding your community’s needs and assets and the capacity of your congregation to create a vision for your garden will take time.  Are there some experienced gardeners willing to share their expertise? Can you make this an intergenerational activity? There are tasks for everyone from young children sowing bean seeds to adults building raised beds to seniors sharing their recipes for fresh produce. In addition, you will need some funding and some land for your garden.

planting young shoots

  1.  Keep Costs Down

Raised beds, an irrigation system, garden tools, etc. for your new community garden can cost money. To keep expenses under control, look for websites like,, or other sites where people offer for free what they don’t need or ask for what they want. has free offers too. Reduce, reuse, and recycle helps everyone and preserves God’s creation.

  1. Find Good Quality Seeds and Young Plants

Selecting good quality seeds and young plants is critical to success. Seeds labeled “Packed for year 20__” or “Sell by mm/yy” should be sown during that year or before the sell-by date. Store seeds in cool, dry conditions to preserve viability. Young plants should be free of disease (discolored leaves or stems) and free of insects (worms, aphids, etc.)

  1. Find Partners

Consider reaching out to other faith communities and ask if they would like to help your congregation start a community garden. The opportunity for people of faith to work side-by-side planning, growing and nurturing, and harvesting a community garden can build lasting relationships.

Gardening is enjoyable in every season!  Get started today!






Not trash, but dinner

“All those delicious Brussels sprouts, rotting!” I griped to my brother about a neighbor’s garden.

He shrugged and said, “Get used to it.”

In rural western Washington, not everything gets harvested. Something is always left over. There may be no time to cut something or no place to store it. Too much or too little rain. Too many or too few warm dry days. Nobody to pick. Or nobody to buy, if a crop tastes good but looks horrible, or because the same crop ripened elsewhere first—like potatoes in Idaho, this year—and the supermarket buyers have already filled their contracts.

So I’m glad the word gleaning has busted out of the Bible color plate of Ruth in Boaz’s field and is elbowing its way into national consciousness.  When I promised my mother in March  that the fruit trees on our farm wouldn’t just rot on the ground, I didn’t know I’d discover a national movement to connect what’s left in fields with food pantries and soup kitchens. After I tracked down Harvest for Hope of Skagit, which organizes and dispatches gleaners in our valley, I read Nancy Michaelis’s blog about Ample Harvest, matching gardeners and food banks on the national level.

Not the image I remember, but the right gleaning story!

This fall I’ve been living by Ample Harvest’s slogan: “No food left behind!” On a bike errand, I stopped to pick a bag of carrots declared too homely to sell by their growers. Every couple of days I help myself to zinnias and sunflowers whose flower farmer stopped cutting and told me, “Enjoy!” Gleaning for Harvest for Hope, I made new friends and froze a fall of beans for me. Harvest for Hope accepted the 12 pounds of beans I gleaned from my landlady’s garden and will accept the last of the apples from our family tree. (Thank goodness, because apples are the zucchini of Washington state: so plentiful you can’t give them away.)

At one end of this gleaning stand the field, the farmer, and the willing volunteer. At the other end must be cooks and canners—people who can prepare and preserve food—as well as food pantries with freezers, refrigerators, and efficient distribution systems. Without this important element, the beans I glean in Mt. Vernon will rot somewhere else. Fortunately a couple of activists helped persuade US food pantries to retool themselves to accept and distribute fresh produce. Goodbye, commodity cheese. Hello, beets and carrots.

“Canning is the new knitting,” someone said recently. And just in time, because almost everybody has forgotten how. Food preservation classes are popping up everywhere as people like me decide to recover the lost skills of freezing, canning and dehydrating. Or how to use every single scrap of a vegetable, as the New York Times feature  “That’s not trash, that’s dinner!” demonstrates.

Now if only I can convince my neighbor to let me glean her Brussels sprouts…

Anne Basye, Sustaining Simplicity


How is your zucchini looking?

Most anyone who grows up in the mid-west knows the saying, “knee high by the 4th of July.” It describes the average size of corn this time of year. The saying came to mind last weekend as I looked at my family’s backyard garden. We aren’t growing any corn, but our other plants are looking lively. They’re not full grown and ready to harvest yet, but it won’t be too much longer. Of  course it’s the same for all gardeners in this general latitude. And everyone knows what that means: zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes available for the taking in workplace kitchenettes, in church fellowship halls, from next door neighbors. So why is it that some are hungry at this time of year, when so many others have food to give away?

I recently spoke with Carol at an organization that’s trying to change that: AmpleHarvest. They are a national not-for-profit whose purpose is to connect gardeners who have excess produce with food pantries that can take it. Their website,, allows gardeners to search by location for nearby food pantries that accept fresh food. When I talked to Carol, she explained that they currently have almost 4000 food pantries registered… but there are some 30,000 in the U.S. So she asked if we could help with a couple of things:

1) If you are involved with a food pantry, ask them to register. It’s free, and all the panty has to do is fill out a short form on their website. The pantry can specify things like what types of produce they can accept, and what times of day or week they can take it. Since many of them don’t have refrigeration, this is important; they can’t store fresh food very long and may need people to pick it up fairly soon after they receive it.

2) If you are a gardener (or know someone who is), tell them about AmpleHarvest. Gardeners can go to the, enter their location, and see if there are any nearby pantries that will accept their surplus. (And the more pantries that register, the more luck gardeners will have using the site; see request 1.)

These seem like really simple yet helpful requests, so I pass them on to you. Please help! If you want to go a step further, the AmpleHarvest website has additional resources like fliers you can post at your local garden store. Together we can help ensure the bountiful harvest of summer and fall is eaten and not wasted.

-Nancy Michaelis

Planet Earth — megastore or garden?

I have been thinking a lot about the food production and distribution systems in the United States, and was so happy to read Anne’s recent post on our national food culture here.  It’s always comforting to know that others are wrestling with similar issues and ideas — after all, isn’t that one of the reasons we have this blog?

One of the aspects of food production I reflect on is how disconnected we are from the “roots” of our food, and how we can best rebuilt that connection and help those suffering from hunger and poverty.  Both my husband and I come from a long line of small town/suburban backyard gardeners (and some farmers), and I honestly never thought too much about this as being “different”.  When we settled down and bought our first house in a Chicago neighborhood, we were on auto-pilot as we planted a garden and started a compost bin.  We had a tiny yard, but enough room for a few tomato and pepper plants.  Many of our neighbors did too.

As more of our friends also bought first homes and settled in, I began to notice that not everyone planted a garden.  Call me non-observant or naive, but I hadn’t really noticed this before.  Hmmmm.  One of my suburban-raised friends confessed that although she does feed her kids fresh vegetables, she hadn’t grown up eating them and certainly not growing them.  The affordability of purchasing fresh vegetables is a topic for another blog post, but this was not the issue for my friend.

Growing vegetables can be very cost-effective, and doesn’t require vast parcels of land.  One way that domestic hunger can be relieved is through more home gardening — both through donations of fresh produce to food pantries, and through knowledge transfer from experienced gardeners to others — some of whom may be suffering from hunger and poverty.

I recently found this fascinating article “For God So Loved the Dirt . . . by Norman Wirzba in the April 2011 issue of Sojourners Magazine that I wanted to share (you’ll first need to complete the Sojourners online registration process, but it will be worth it).  The author discusses the theology of “God’s garden” as described in various passages in the Bible and how it contrasts with a resource utilization/consumer view of the Earth.  I love the imagery of God as a farmer in overalls, digging in the dirt — does God have dirty fingernails like I sometimes do?

Wirzba’s assertion that local economies enable us to see how our actions may help or harm others is really interesting.  I don’t believe that most people intend to hurt other people, but it’s hard to gauge your impact on someone you never see.  In our global economy, I don’t have to look my farmer in the eye — even if my purchasing decisions might be harming his/her family.  I’m not suggesting that local food is the only “answer”, just that it forces us to really see the other person.

The author concludes with a vision of religious institutions moving away from seeing the Earth as a megastore where you might find a good deal, and instead building the connections between God’s garden and his/her people by transforming parking lots and lawns into gardens.  Although he doesn’t explicitly discuss it, I imagine the author may agree that donating some of that produce to a local food pantry might be nice too.

Looking through the archives, I found that I blogged about this last year here, and that some congregations are already started to dig up their lawns and grow food.  I really like the concept of faith congregations building community around gardening — sharing food, building bridges, and teaching each other.  Are there more congregations doing this since last year?  I hope so.  Could this idea work in your congregation?  Does this article challenge some of your assumptions?  I look forward to your thoughts.

Erin Cummisford

It’s a small world

Nehemias and a couple of the children of El Jardin show us plants in their garden

I recently had the good fortune to visit an ELCA World Hunger-supported project in the villages of  El Jardin and San Julian, Costa Rica. There we met Nehemias Rivera Medina, an unassuming and inspiring man who is teaching the residents of these communities about organic gardening. On it’s surface it sounds pretty straight-forward, but it didn’t take long to see the impressive depth, and to find a lesson.

El Jardin and San Julian are small, rural villages surrounded by banana and pineapple plantations. For a couple of generations now, the plantations have been, by far, the primary source of employment. In that time, community members have lost their knowledge of how to grow their own food. So Nehemias is showing them how to grow vegetables and fruit as well as plants that can be made into useful things, like shampoo, insect repellent, and arthritis cream. The economic situation in these villages is difficult, so having a source of supplemental, nutritious food and household products is helpful. They also hope to one day sell some of their products for extra income. Nehemias is teaching them about raised planting beds (so everything doesn’t wash away in the rainy season), soil fertility, crop rotation, insect control through polyculture, and complimentary crops.

One of the places Nehemias is teaching is in the secondary school in San Julian. We met a student who told us that before taking Nehemias’ class, she didn’t know anything about growing plants. But they’ve learned a lot. They’re growing cucumbers, radishes, celery, yucca, and rose hips at school, and what they grow is being used in the school lunch program. They’ve learned to compost the leftovers. As she spoke, it struck me what a small world it is. It sounded so familiar! These are the same types of things that are being done in American schools, in Chicago’s schools, close to where I live. We, also, have lost the knowledge about growing things. We, also, are trying to teach our children about better nutrition, especially in locations of low income that lack easy access to supermarkets and produce. We, also, are working in schools and through lunch programs.

But Nehemias’ aims don’t stop with what’s strictly practical. Beyond the techniques of growing plants, he’s teaching that eco-agriculture provides artistic, aesthetic, and therapuetic benefits, allowing people to use their gifts in the care of God’s creation – care that includes the plants and creatures around them as well as themselves. So much more than gardening, Nehemias teachs that the ecological sanctuary they are building is an alter constructed to life. The garden beds in El Jardin are not just rectangles. Some are shaped like hearts, or stars, or follow the contours of walking paths. They are shapes chosen by the children. Garden beds include flowers with the vegetables to attract bees and birds, but also because flowers are beautiful. They are constructed on church property, where anyone who wants to is welcome to participate. In addition to feeding the villagers’ bodies and providing income, Nehemias is showing them how gardens feed their communities, their souls, and all of God’s creation.  What a lesson for us all.

Examining World Hunger at Carol Joy Holling

This is the ninth in a series of posts highlighting hunger-related activities that happened at ELCA Outdoor Ministry locations over the summer with the help of Education/Advocacy grants from ELCA World Hunger. The following is from Carol Joy Holling  Camp in Ashland, Nebraska. It was written the last week of July.


We are in the final week of camp here at Carol Joy Holling and the garden supported by an ELCA World Hunger Education/Advocacy grant is flourishing! Campers and staff have picked tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, zucchini, and a variety of squash. All the food continues to go to Table Grace Ministries in Omaha; an organization that teaches low income and single parent families how to cook and shop wisely.

The Hunger Garden is located at a central place on site that campers pass everyday to and from their activities. It’s an exciting place where everyone feels that they are doing something beyond our camp. The greatest experience is that many of our campers come without ever digging in the dirt or seeing where vegetables come from. This is a new experience!

Wednesdays’ focus is “Created for Community” and the Hunger Garden certainly brings the theme alive. Campers learn that “community” is much greater that just the camp – it extends out to many – many who we may never meet.

After the campers and staff leave for the summer the garden will continue to give. Members of American Lutheran Church in Ashland will come out on a regular basis to make sure nothing goes to waste. This is a great partnership with the local congregation.

Pastor Brad
Director/Programs, NLOM

Examining World Hunger at Mar-Lu-Ridge

This is the second in a series of posts highlighting hunger-related activities happening at ELCA Outdoor Ministry locations with the help of Education/Advocacy grants from ELCA World Hunger. Today’s post comes from Mar-Lu-Ridge in Jefferson, Maryland.


As I write this, we are receiving the first rains in 4 weeks. Our temperatures in Maryland have been as high as 100 degrees, but all is well and our campers have happily watered our new garden every day. The idea for our Garden of Hope sprang from our summer curriculum, Keeping the Earth, and from our desire to involve our campers in hands-on activities as they learn more about how food grows and eventually ends up on their plates. Playing in the dirt seemed like the perfect fit. Funding from the ELCA World Hunger’s Education/Advocacy grant allowed us to establish a garden in our day camp area. We installed a 7.5 foot high deer fence, so that any veggies grown could make it to the local soup kitchens, not into the bellies of our resident deer population. Despite the heat and lack of rain, we have some tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and squash coming on the vine. While our harvest will be small this first season, our campers have had the chance to plant, tend and learn about their food. We encourage them to take these lessons home, and help their families establish similar gardens. Painting boards to decorate the garden is another favorite activity – it’s looking good!

Twirling the compost tumbler has become a daily activity for our campers in the mountain-top section of our property. There is no good soil for a garden here, but these campers see the garden when they hike to Area 3 each week for a sleep-out. Lessons about composting are taught in Nature each week as well. The coolest thing that is happening in this area of camp is the daily opportunity to contribute a quarter to ELCA World Hunger when they visit the store each day. A running tally is kept, groups try to outdo each other, and when the weekly total is announced, they are all amazed at what they have done. So far this summer, we have raised $200 in quarters!

As we learn to care for our brothers and sisters in need, we remember one of our summer verses: “I have come that you might have life – life in all is abundance.” John 10:10b

Sarah Lefler
Director of Operations

Examining World Hunger at Lutherhill Ministries

Each year ELCA World Hunger provides funding through our Education/Advocacy grants to organizations working to educate Lutherans and others on the root causes of and solutions for world hunger, or organizations advocating on behalf of those who live in hunger and poverty. In 2010, ELCA World Hunger worked with ELCA Outdoor Ministries to provide Education/Advocacy grants to eleven Outdoor Ministry locations. The money is being used to help campers learn about world hunger, its causes, and solutions. Beginning with this post, on second and fourth Fridays we will highlight a few of the projects being conducted with these funds. Today’s post comes from Lutherhill Ministries in La Grange, Texas.


Spiritually Fed

Greetings from Lutherhill Ministries in La Grange, Texas!    The weather is hot and humid here in our neck of the woods, and storm clouds seem to linger overhead daily.  While others grumble as they are called out of the pool – we are quietly elated as the fresh rain soaks our new garden!

As a grateful recipient of an ELCA World Hunger Education/Advocacy grant, we are excited to share our happenings with you! This summer, every Lutherhill camper participates in the Daily Bread Project. The Daily Bread Project includes a garden, compost pile, recycling program, hunger meal, Daily Bread worship and more.  We experience as a community the emptiness that comes with hunger and poverty. And as a community we experience the fullness that comes when we fulfill God’s call to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. Here’s a taste…

Hunger Meal

As campers, staff and sponsors enter the dining hall for Wednesday lunch, each draw a colored marble. These marbles represent their lunch destiny, but more importantly they represent the distribution of food resources across the world.

The lunch-time experience helps youth explore hunger first hand – 65% eat rice on the floor, 20% eat rice and chicken on the floor, 10% eat pasta in chairs and 5% eat a three course meal at a table setting. As campers seated on the floor wait, kitchen staff graciously serve those at the head table. After this upper class is served, the others are haphazardly served their meager meals.

Reactions are intriguing. Some weeks campers are eager to share their food; other weeks campers turn inward, more concerned about eating their own lunch; other times campers linger on the verge of getting it, of pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone.

Food for Thought

The hunger meal becomes a topic for discussion throughout the day.  We walk together in frustration and disappointment and come out on the other side equipped and empowered. Simple lessons from the garden, compost, worship and more give us the tools to abate hunger locally and globally.  To date we’ve collected $560.92 in offerings for ELCA World Hunger and gathered 675 canned goods for local food banks in 9 communities.

Surrounded by abundance, love takes on a different shape than it does in the midst of poverty and hunger. The Daily Bread Project gives us the chance to explore Christ’s love in the middle of both!

For more information on The Daily Bread Project contact Geoff Roach, Daily Bread Coordinator at