Emmanuel Church in Ottawa is not only eating what the church’s garden yields, but wants to try growing all the produce needed for church events.
Janet Mark Wallace, chair of the church’s social justice committee, says the hope may sound grand or overwhelming, but the steps towards it have been tiny, while the benefits to date for various ministries are already huge.
The church’s garden is part of a larger vision to explore how the United Church of Canada’s Seven Pillars of Food Sovereignty, which draws connections between land, who grows food, and who eats it, can enliven all ministries.
“We hope to become a model of how faith communities can strengthen their ecological and cultural ties to the wider city by recognizing the sacredness of food,” says Wallace.
The church garden has now seasonally yielded radishes, peas, beets, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, parsley, beans, basil, and potatoes. Last year, the church installed a shade pergola. But Wallace notes it all started with “two raised planting beds, two rain barrels, some free compost, and two kids.”
In addition, instead of simply being inspired to plan discrete local food projects like the garden, the church has put money where its mouth is and hired students as Local Food Procurement Coordinators.
For two summers, the students have been responsible for sourcing local food for events, building relationships with local food growers, minimizing waste, and encouraging cross-generational food events.
Wallace says the church found that a batch-cooking day appeals to many ages, and is wonderful for physical and community and health.
The United Church Foundation’s Seeds of Hope program, plus other funding bodies, supported the local food leadership roles.