Harvest of Hope

On September 18, clergy and members of area congregations gathered at Allen Chapel AME on the north side of Kalamazoo to celebrate a Harvest of Unity rooted in the soil of a new garden project. The garden at Allen Chapel grew out of conversations organized by Hope for Creation, the local interfaith group that promotes climate action and sustainability in the Kalamazoo area. These conversations brought together people who wanted to start gardens and those who had gardening knowledge, like leaders of the partnership between Sunnyside Methodist Church and Fresh Fire AME who share care for an organic garden and teach about healthy eating.

This summer, shared knowledge and helping hands transformed an area behind Allen Chapel into a new garden. One person brought gardening tools, another brought seeds, KVCC provided wood chips, and the Congregation of St. Joseph helped with financial support. Now, tomatoes and spinach bask in the sun, cared for by people building friendships around their interest in growing food. A patch of land that once added to urban heat burdens has been transformed into an oasis of healthy food and social connection.

At the Harvest of Unity celebration, Rev. Millard Southern welcomed clergy from other congregations, emphasizing the value of community, of finding common ground across our denominational identities. Rabbi Simone Schicker spoke of our shared obligation to care for the earth, a teaching made visible to Jews during this shmita year, when people are reminded that the land needs periods of rest. Rev. John Best described Pine Island church’s garden, where members build relationships with each other and with the land while growing food for Loaves and Fishes.

Hope for Creation hopes that the garden planted at Allen Chapel will nurture relationships and grow community connections that will help create a just and sustainable community.

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