Binford Community Garden

"We must cultivate our own garden." (Voltaire, Candide)

Voltaire's philosophical musing on life and gardening is a fit epigram for a new initiative for City Church. This spring and summer we are partnering with Binford Middle School (located at 1701 Floyd Ave in the heart of the Fan) to cultivate their community garden. Last spring volunteers from the Backyard Farmer built and planted eight raised garden beds on the Eastern lawn of the school.

On Saturday, April 23, a group of volunteers from City Church joined Binford staff to prepare and plant the beds for this year. Some of the beds were tangled with weeds; others had tidy plantings of winter wheat which were pulled and composted. The beds were then fertilized and planted with a wide variety of seeds and seedlings: tomatoes, peas, squash, peppers, radishes, carrots, onions, strawberries, and herbs.

Over the next two months while school remains in session, students and staff at Binford will monitor and cultivate the garden: weeding, watering, mulching, and (presumably) harvesting. However, particularly heading into the hottest summer months the garden will require ongoing upkeep and involvement from the community. City Church volunteers will provide assistance throughout the summer; watering regularly, making successive plantings, turning the compost bins, and otherwise tending the garden.

The Binford Garden project affords City Church a great opportunity to partner meaningfully with the Fan community. It will strengthen relationships with staff, students, and the school community as a whole. It has the potential to provide hands-on three-dimensional and five-sense learning opportunities for students. It also has the potential to provide healthy produce to students, community members, and maybe even the gardeners.

Gardening in the community also connects us to our basic human design. God created us to live in a garden and to do the work of cultivation. The work of gardening is not mere physical labor, but is infused with spiritual (even theological) weight. As Vigen Guroian writes in his brief yet powerful reflection The Fragrance of God:

"We garden because we are created in the image of the Master Gardener, in whose likeness we grow in measure as we garden. We are not only the field that God gardens but his fellow gardeners in the Paradise that he is restoring (1 Cor. 3:9)."

If you are interested in learning more about the garden stop by and take a look (Vine Street just south of Floyd). Or contact Erik (erik@citychurchrva.com) to learn about our next scheduled work day.

(See more images on City Church's Flickr.)