There is a story that circulates in my preaching journals from time to time illustrating the difference between heaven and hell. Both places had a large banquet table with all the food one could imagine.
In the down place people were hungry, wailing and crying, though all this food was set before them. The problem: Each person had a spoon with a handle so long that they could take the food from the platter, but they could not get it into their mouth.
At the up place there was a table set, all the food one could imagine, and each person had a spoon with a handle so long that they could not put the food in their mouth.
The difference between heaven and hell: In heaven people were working together feeding each other.
The community garden at the Presbyterian Church on Boones Ferry Road is an example of working together to feed each other.
Now in its fourth year the origins are starting to fade and I would like to share the beginnings of this community garden on Boones Ferry Road.
It began like this. Beth Balaban, the meal site coordinator who uses the church for Meals on Wheels, approached me to ask if the church would allow them to use some of the property for a garden. A small plot was tilled and planted inside the fence in the back of the church.
The next year we decided to expand the garden to the property east of the north parking lot. This was a little less than an acre and seemed overwhelming. How were we going to handle those long handled spoons?
I received a call from Janet, of the Marion-Polk Food Share in Salem, who had heard we might have a garden and she said if the church provided the property, she would get the people to help. We scheduled a meeting and she delivered as promised.
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Warde Hershberger, then coordinator of the AWARE Food Bank, Ian Niktab, the current coordinator of the community gardens in Woodburn, Jack from Als Garden Center, Nanette Shepherd and others from the Woodburn Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dalila Ortiz, who was then working for Neuvo Amanecer, Pastor Edy from the Hispanic church, and Jerry Yoder from the Presbyterian Church were all present at this meeting.
We developed an action plan. The land was to be divided with half the property for the community garden and half the property divided into 30 plots, 8 feet by 17 feet for individual families. Warde Hershberger contacted Woodburn Landscaping, which laid 400 feet of irrigation pipe. Warde also plowed the field. Wilbur Ellis and Coelho Dairy provided fertilizer and Als Garden donated the plants. When it came time to plant, members of the LDS church were there in large numbers. Also giving a helping hand were members of the Hispanic church, Presbyterian Church and those named above from the original committee.
As the summer went by and the weeds grew alongside the plants the majority of the caretaking was done by the LDS church and a select few people who would come and weed.
As the various plants were ready for harvest, Nanette Shepherd led the group in harvesting the garden. This past year three people not mentioned above made it possible to keep up with the weeds and the harvest. The past two years Dean Herndon, contacted through the meal site, took a personal interest in the garden, and he, along with Nanette, took the lead in weeding and harvesting the garden. Helen Abel, also from the meal site, was another garden angel who took special care of the onions this year, and, Don Fackrell took time during his lunch hour every day to come and weed the garden. At harvest, those long handled spoons reached out to the food bank with more than 3,000 pounds of produce. This year, more 3,500 pounds was delivered to the food bank.
Rev. David Morelli is the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Woodburn.