by Pastor Nick Giannatasio
When I was asked to contribute some experiences at Saint Peter for the 50th Anniversary, I was initially stymied. How does one pick from projects that are so widely supported by the congregation, and how does one whittle one remembrance among all others? Nevertheless, there is one ministry that does rise to the top for me, and that is the Giving Garden.
There was an article in the Living Lutheran magazine about a church that started a giving garden. The pictures in the article showed many happy and content “parishioner-gardeners” planting and harvesting. The product of their labors—the beautiful fresh vegetables—brought joy and contentment to those who labored in the garden, harvesting and preparing the packaging of vegetables going to the local food pantry they supported as a mission of the church. Another deliverable of this proposed garden was we now had an “outdoor” ministry that enabled parishioners, who because of pandemic or other medical issues, could not participate in many of the indoor ministries of the church, a way to participate outside.
A committee was formed and we contacted the Master Gardeners Extension Service for guidance. Also, we applied for and received several grants for the purpose of obtaining the lumber for the many wooden flower boxes. Additionally, we had to bring water to the site as well as a shed for tools and supplies. The number of items that needed to come together was enormous. Notwithstanding our needs, the church always comes through and what started as an idea became a reality that continues year after year bringing the fruits of the harvest to the community.
For me personally, I used to spend my Fridays in the garden and then bring the vegetables to the Food Pantry on my way home. It was a manner of giving a sacrament in a different way and I thank God for the opportunity and I thank Saint Peter Lutheran Church as the vessel of extending God’s blessings into the community at large.