Collards, chard, and hope
When Kristy and Don Milholin’s children were in elementary school they noticed several children experiencing food insecurity. Kristy and Don felt called to help make a difference in those children’s lives, and so in August 2009, they started the Out of the Garden Project in their home around the kitchen table. The Milholins began personally supplying 10 families with a small bag of food each Friday so that those children and their families would have something to eat over the weekend. What began in 2009 by helping 10 families with a small bag of food weekly, has now grown to the largest organization of its kind in the greater Greensboro area.
Nine years later in August, Vicar Matt Canniff-Kesecker began serving as Redeveloper/Student-Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Greensboro, and on November 9, the congregation broke ground on the Urban Teaching Farm that they host in partnership with Out of the Garden Project. The goals of the farm are to be a teaching site where children, students, and community members learn about urban farming; to provide community-supported produce for people in the church’s neighborhood of Warnersville and beyond; and to be a community gathering space that brings a diverse collection of people together.
Vicar Matt and the congregation are delighted to be partners in ministry with Out of the Garden Project and know that the Urban Teaching Farm will do a lot of good for the congregation and the surrounding neighborhood. “Prince of Peace has always been a congregation that exists for the sake of our neighborhood,” says Vicar Matt, “and the values of this project very much align with our mission to be a community of health and wholeness in this place. This partnership with Out of the Garden Project is a great example of how the Kingdom of God works, because God brought us an awesome opportunity and all we had to do was say ‘yes!’”
Although it was raining on November 9, the spirit of the community could not be dampened as they gathered to break ground for the garden, hear from community leaders, and enjoy a “greens and beans” luncheon that included sweet, fresh collards harvested by Zak, the “farm hand” and fresh radishes and chard to take home. John Spillmon, Guilford Rotary District Governor, shared that, “although Greensboro has made efforts to address food insecurity issues, in order to solve the problem long-term, we have to grow more food, teach individuals how to grow their own food, and give people skills and opportunities to get good paying jobs in our community. This garden does all three.”
Lilly Emendy, the Urban Teaching Farm Manager, is excited that Prince of Peace’s property provides 1.5 acres of vegetable production less than a mile from downtown Greensboro. Her goal is to create a sustainable and replicable model for providing harvest boxes to the immediate community and hopes that the farm can “feed the people good food!”
In this season of Advent, with snow on the ground and Christmas just around the corner, it seems rather odd to be thinking about plowing gardens and planting seeds, but this Howard Thurman poem reminds us that we always have work to do.
The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
It is indeed a blessing that mission support dollars from congregations across the synod and the wider church enable Prince of Peace to share their property with the community by way of an Urban Teaching Farm. What a great way to do the “work of Christmas” and to offer hope—along with some collards and chard!