Home January 2014 Harvesting a garden tended by God

Harvesting a garden tended by God

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Portland church reaps bounty from its ‘waterless’ garden

(Reprinted, with permission, from The Gleaner magazine of Northwest Seventh-day Adventists)

PORTLAND — What does a church do when it owns nearly an acre of land behind the building? At Your Bible Speaks Church (YBS) in Portland, Ore., where Louis Turner Jr. is the senior pastor, that question was up for debate.

Recently the members of YBS decided to grow a “waterless” garden on the land. Its arrival was welcomed by previously skeptical church members, and the garden was readily embraced by an onlooking, unchurched community as well.

According to Jean Ewell, YBS community services director, the request to plant a garden at the church was first made to the board several years ago as a way to meet the needs of the YBS community. Some of the common objections to the idea of planting a garden were the intensive labor required to till and prepare the soil, and there were costs associated with watering the plants.

These objections stood in the way until Tom Hall, local elder and farmer, arrived at YBS and found a solution at the website backtoedenfilm.com. There he learned about Paul Gautschi and his waterless garden in Sequim, Wash. Hall thought that, if the waterless garden worked for Gautschi, it might also work for YBS.

Hall proposed a waterless garden to a skeptical church board, which reluctantly gave approval. Hall formed a gardening subcommittee as a part of the church’s community services. In early 2013, Hall contacted tree servicing companies and got them to dump wood chips on the back lot at no cost. Then the gardening committee spread 40-pound craft paper on the ground and topped it with mulch to provide a nutrient-rich covering for seeds and to hold much-needed moisture.
Skeptics of the garden became believers as they tasted the harvest. Rain that fell on the garden during the spring provided sufficient water to keep the garden growing during the relatively dry summer months.

When the garden was first started, neighbors asked what the church was doing. People are amazed at how the garden grows without topical water application. One woman, attracted to the garden, said she would visit the church during the Sabbath services.

As members of the gardening committee worked in the garden one Sunday, a woman came by and said that she was from New York. She said she had heard about the garden by word of mouth and came to see the waterless garden for herself.

As YBS members testify to their community of God’s goodness to them, they will continue to rely upon the Lord to provide a bountiful harvest of souls, a direct result of their utilization of the waterless garden that God has given to them.