When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
by Vernita Kennen
Our congregational Hunger and Advocacy group went on its annual field trip again in June. We visited Galilee Lutheran Church and Pastor Dana Nelson to learn about both their ELCA Domestic Hunger Grant recipient and their work on the Rice Street community garden. Our visit on a bright, sunny Saturday could not have been better.
We were greeted with the wonderful aromas of BBQ coming from the lower parking lot. “Big Bill” was there (with a youth helper) turning out tasty “Food for the ‘Hood”. Funding through one of the grants has helped make this project one which has both success and community outreach. Neighbors and others passing on Rice Street cannot help but be drawn in by the fragrance.
Perhaps you read the article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the Rice Street Community Garden. What was only a dream only a few short months ago is now a thriving community garden with 230 plots. The 16x20’ gardens were in varying states of growth - - some well on the way while others were just getting started with new green shoots emerging. Tomatoes abounded almost everywhere as did peppers of varying kinds. Then there were countless crops we simply could not identify. Gardeners from many cultures and countries are able to grow items familiar to them but new to us.
Some of us have returned again and again to check on the gardens and their progress. It has given us the opportunity to talk with some of the people tending their plots. We’ve learned about some of the unusual (to us) crops and we’ve been offered gifts of produce. We can only imagine the sharing that goes on from gardener to gardener and the delicious, nutritious meals that grace many family tables.
Making newcomers to our communities feel at home by being able to grow crops as they may have done in their native countries is a valuable gift of hospitality. Stop by if you are driving north on Rice Street just before getting to Highway 36. You will be welcomed and amazed. You will leave thanking God for abundance and Galilee Lutheran for their part in acting as God’s hands and feet in this way.