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Sowing Seeds of Mission Grant Recipient Good News Gardens Shares Reflection Upon Their Ministry

Organizers of Good News Gardens, and recipients of a 2021 Province I Sowing Seeds of Ministry Grant share reflections on their shared work at the culmination of their formal work together. They express hope that the project will live on, in part by sharing the story of this ministry widely.

The group invites you to share in their storytelling slides here:

Good News Gardens MASSACHUSETTS Story Sharing Slides

When I first heard about the idea of Good News Gardens from the Rev. Nurya Love Parish and then from Jerusalem Greer in the Evangelism Office I was struck by both the simplicity and the powerful possibilities for the program. Plant, Pray, Proclaim! We can all do that. Being a gardener myself, and having a commitment to supporting faith communities in growing and sharing food, this was an exciting movement to be part of. To my delight, members of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts Creation Care Circle were excited too and we moved from brainstorming to putting together a plan and getting funding. Good News Gardens Massachusetts took off quickly, starting in December of 2020 and expanding out across the diocese and then joining together with the Diocese of Massachusetts. From the webinars, to seed blessings, spiritual exploration and sharing about our ups and downs in the garden, it has been a joy to be in community with faithful people across the Commonwealth. I am inspired by all the stories of how God has worked through tomato seedlings and conversations while weeding carrots. And I am grateful for the support that has allowed us to connect, inspire, and share as we watch what God is growing in our midst.

The Rev.. Anna Woofenden

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Northampton, MA

As Farm Educator for the Good New Gardens Massachusetts program, I spent my 10 hours/month working to develop content for newsletters, video shorts, and webinars around both the nuts and bolts of growing a garden and spiritual engagement with gardens. I was also available for one to one consultations for growers, and had the privilege of receiving great questions and even beautiful pictures of the emerging Good News Gardens! Whether people had been gardening for years or putting their hands in the dirt for the first time, I found a hunger for developing a spiritual practice centered on embodied relationship with the earth. Through our online programming, written materials, and video shorts, the Good News Gardens team met this hunger and sparked curiosity for another abundant growing season next year.

Rev. Rachel Field

Mission Farm, Killington VT

As Project Manager I handle all the administrative aspects of this program such as: I put together and distributed our monthly newsletter to our growing subscriber list, along with keeping up to date on our FaceBook page. I register and send out info/links for all our webinars and events as well as manage our emails answering any questions or directing them to who can. I have had the privilege of working with many from all different parishes both WMA and MA. It has truly been a blessing to see how this program has grown in many different ways in many different parishes. We have come together in a time of Covid more online then we hoped, I truly look forward to next year with the hope of more in person gatherings. I would like to share a few stories and pictures from some of our events and connections made.

Melanie Cortis

Project Manager

When I heard about the Good News Gardening Program I signed up immediately. This year I have had more time to devote to my garden and have always had a desire to find a way to share my harvest with others. I couldn’t have been more happy with the Good News Garden program. It was spiritually and instructively informative and included great (virtual) fellowship. I have picked up many ideas on what I can personally do next year to share my abundance as well as possible programs to run within our parish.

In July I reviewed my participation in the Good News Garden Program with our Vestry. I mentioned how I would like to see if we could start a program within the parish for next year. I was taken aback by how much excitement there was for it and was given the go ahead to proceed. I am excitedly looking forward to putting together this ministry for St Mark’s Leominster in time for the next growing season.

Frank Ruggiero, St Marks Leominster

I wanted to give you an update about my Good News Garden story that I shared on Storytelling Evening. John, is the man who lives across the street from Trinity church. This past Thursday he came to our Community Meals Grab and Go and donated the tomatoes that he and his friend, Gene grew. They grew them in their small garden that was started with Good News Garden plants. People in line were so happy to take home fresh garden tomatoes! It was nice to hear spontaneous conversations and mutual appreciation for a fresh tomato in August. It was a bonding moment. I arrived after John had left. (And yes, people were still talking about the tomatoes.) I crossed the street and John came out to greet me. I was so tickled pink to show him the GNG newsletter with the picture of Gene and him. I emailed it to him so he could show his daughter. He was so proud.

I have been reading Stephanie Spellars' book "Radical Welcome" and I had to shelve it for a little while as I felt like I had met a wall. As I understood it, I had to make sure the vestry was on board with a radical welcome philosophy and it was beginning to feel like I had to have a "movement", something that felt really big. Bigger than I had the energy for. Especially during a search for a new minister. And a pandemic. But building relationships with people in my community, loving them and welcoming them, that felt achievable, easy even. Good News Gardens became my radical welcome. And the vestry members definitely were on board with Good News Gardens. And Good News Gardens is a Movement. So I guess, I grew over the wall, like a vine! Now, I can pick up Stephanie's book again and see what else I can learn. Grow on!

We closed the growing season with Harvest Celebrations on Sunday October 3rd. Throughout the commonwealth in different parishes. Some integrated it into their Sunday service, others celebrated in outdoor celebrations that afternoon. I am looking forward to hearing how these events went as well.

How it worked

Monthly Webinars January- September with several different topics and guest speakers, along with time for our Farm Educator to answer questions.

Spring 2021 Blessing of the seeds/seedlings events in different parishes in the commonwealth.

10 Week Faith Formation Series From May-July. Material from Plainsong Farms.

Summer 2021 Good News Gardens Story Sharing event. (on-line)

Fall 2021 Harvest Celebrations in different parishes in the commonwealth.

This along with our monthly newsletter that kept all up to date on what was going on in the different parishes, registration links for our webinars, helpful tips from our Farm Educator, and allowed us to share good news happening throughout Massachusetts.

In addition to this we conducted quarterly meetings with our area leaders to go over ideas and upcoming events or webinars.

Our staff came together on a monthly basis to go over events, the newsletter and any other happenings that month.

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