Garden helps kids grow faith - Catholic Courier

Garden helps kids grow faith

The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. — Genesis 1:11-12

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. — John 15:5

Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. — Matthew 7:16-18

Add such examples as the gardens at Eden and Gethsemane to the passages listed above, and there’s no shortage of biblical references to gardening. With that in mind, a children’s garden has been instituted at Holy Cross Church in Tompkins County.

The fledgling garden is located on the north side of the church, 375 S. George Road, Freeville/Dryden. It was launched with a spirited planting session held in the late afternoon and early evening of June 8.

Staff provided seeds, plants, flowers and garden tools, and participants brought many of their own items as well. Among the garden’s initial inventory are marigolds, petunias, sunflowers and salvia plants. It also includes such vegetables as tomatoes, lettuce, spaghetti squash and green beans. In addition, three flowering trees were planted to link with the three-cross display in front of Holy Cross Church.

This is one garden that certainly didn’t need any watering in its infant stages. In fact, the launching was postponed by five days due to a raw, cold downpour on the originally scheduled date of June 3. Lacy Park, religious-education coordinator, said there was “a pretty good turnout” of approximately eight or nine families on the makeup date — even though it was raining then as well.

The children’s garden was the idea of Dianne Kimmich, a Holy Cross parishioner.

“This project is intended to give the children the ‘roots’ of belonging to a community as well as a sense of pride in their accomplishments,” she explained.

“I thought was a very nice idea. Certainly you can draw some analogies between growing a garden and growing God’s love, and reaping what you sow and the whole bit. That ties in very well with a community of believers,” added Barbara Finney, a Holy Cross parishioner who was on hand June 8 with her daughter Elizabeth, 9, and son Kevin, 8.

Participants combined work with fun during the planting session. For instance, Park said she got children motivated to plant green beans by claiming they were magic beans. Finney also noted that Anne-Marie Brogan, pastoral associate, spoke of making a big salad from the lettuce they were planting — to which her daughter responded by asking if the church had any Caesar dressing.

Finney observed that working in a group atmosphere helps young people who weren’t necessarily born with a green thumb.

“I think they have good intentions. They want to help, but it’s ‘OK, you put it in the ground and that’s that.’ You forget you have to attend to it on a daily basis. I think my son would rather just play in the dirt,” she said. On the other hand, with the garden at Holy Cross, both her children appear “interested and happy to go back again.”

As the garden grows, organizers hope participation does as well. They invite any families who were unable to attend on June 8 to contribute as time goes on.

“It is a big garden and a work in progress. It’s going to take a couple of seasons to get it the way we have envisioned,” Park said.

Future plans, she added, are to develop a meditation area and hold religious-education classes at the garden, and for students to continue planting more items in the years to come.

“I hope this helps the children feel ever more strongly that this is their church and that they have a role in its care and nurturing. It would be good if that sense continued into their adulthood,” Brogan remarked.

She said she hopes for teaching moments to emerge from the garden experience, saying it “could also provide us with some good metaphors as we try to explain the power of God’s word and the growth of God’s kingdom in our religious-education programs.”

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