This semester, I have had the joy of supervising six social work interns who are helping get the garden organized for the growing season, publicizing and attending garden work days, and sharing about the opportunity with the George Fox University community and those in our town of Newberg. One of the interns, Anna Thomas, shared her thoughts on participating in the community garden.
Wendell E. Berry once said in a lecture:
“I will say, from my own belief and experience, that imagination thrives on contact, on tangible connection. For humans to have a responsible relationship to the world, they must imagine their places in it. To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it. By imagination we see it illuminated by its own unique character and by our love for it. By imagination we recognize with sympathy the fellow members, human and nonhuman, with whom we share our place. By that local experience we see the need to grant a sort of preemptive sympathy to all the fellow members, the neighbors, with whom we share the world. As imagination enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection. And it is in affection that we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind, and conserving economy.”
Why did I join the community garden?
I joined the community garden because of the way it rekindles hope in a person and their ability to work toward being more and doing more than they originally believed to be possible. Economic poverty can cause a person to feel inferior to others and lose hope in themselves and sometimes humanity. But we all have to admit that there is not only economic poverty but also relational and creative or imaginative poverty. When we are so focused on ourselves we can lose sight of God’s Kingdom and what it means to be in that Kingdom. The community garden reminds me of the ways God asks us to be dreamers and people who hope for a reconciled Kingdom where everyone is given the dignity ascribed to them, that they were born with.
I have found this dignity to be rekindled as I help someone create something or make something with their hands. In the community garden we are growing food with our hands and nurturing not only the seeds and plants that thrive but also our own being. It gives dignity to a person when they can provide for themselves and can see the labor of their hands. It reminds them of the possibilities and the creativity that God created them with that they can use in other areas than just gardening.