North Valley Receives Grant for Community Garden

September 01, 2009 | Harry Smedes

The North Valley Church, in Merlin, Ore., received a grant from the Oregon Conference Office of Community Outreach for the development of a community garden. Its purpose is to assist needy families by way of the church's North Valley Adventist Community Services program in concert with relevant county agencies and local grocers. The garden is an outgrowth of the church's program on disaster preparedness for survival.

The grant of $3,000 was presented to the church by Rhonda Whitney, Oregon Conference Community Outreach director. The garden is the result of work by many church members under the guidance of Craig McCann, who envisioned, planned and directed the project. The grant proposal was written and submitted by Harry Smedes, the church's disaster response coordinator, on the basis of McCann's detailed plans. After the proposal was selected and approved, Whitney presented the check for $3,000 to John Witcombe, pastor, and McCann.

Approximately 80 raised garden beds have been constructed, filled and planted. A greenhouse was built for starting plants in small containers. Many church members helped by putting seedlings into plastic cups and later transferred them to garden beds.

An automatic watering system is complete and operating. Flowers rim the garden and ivy climbs the fence.

Students from the nearby Adventist school have participated several times in preparing the raised garden beds and in planting vegetables.

The garden tied in nicely with this summer's Vacation Bible School, with its theme "In the Garden." VBS staff showed children how seeds grow into plants for food and nourishment, and how living things need a healthy environment to live and grow, clean air, water, sunshine and loving care. The interplay of water, good soil, natural organic fertilizer, beneficial insects and worms, sunshine, and a gardener who keeps the weeds out and loves and cares for the plants provided an example of God's love and care easily understood by children. Students watched seeds germinate and sprout, and took them home to plant in their own gardens.

They learned what Jesus said about raising food and simple health — an especially relevant topic in light of the childhood obesity epidemic in this country.