Community Garden Ministry
Christ Lutheran Church and Kiswahili Lutheran Mission has been a refuge to many in different aspects. At Christ Lutheran Church land we are able to start Community Garden. Our community is always thankful for the daily bread that they continue to find in our community garden. Each family brings new skills, cross cultural experiences, friendship, and so forth, all that expand our food production. Since 2017, we have been building community, friendship and share spiritual practice is to the individual. There has been an overwhelming sense of belonging that garden participants experience in our Community Garden Ministry. Christ Lutheran Church and Kiswahili Lutheran Mission brings people together to grow, share our experiences of crop growing from different countries.
Refugees and immigrants arriving in different countries encounter numerous challenges adapting to their new home. These include learning a new language and culture, and finding jobs, schools and housing. In addition, many refugees experienced various forms of trauma and hardship before their arrival, which may exacerbate their stress. These multiple barriers often enhance refugees’ social isolation and limit opportunities for integration in the local community.
The gardeners identified three primary benefits from the Community Garden Ministry: physical, social, and emotional well-being and mental health. The physical benefits began with being outdoors and the physical labor of planting, weeding, and harvesting.
The social, emotional, and mental health benefits of gardening came out strongly in our community. For refugees, who often live in urban apartments, the physical garden space around the church became a social space where they could spend time with friends and family and children could play outside. Gardeners also spoke of feeling emotionally renewed. One gardener stated, “When I’m feeling down, I come to the garden.” Others shared that watching the plants grow made them happy. Across ethnic groups, gardeners stated how the garden connected them with home and their sense of identity, as one gardener explained: “back home in in the village, we survived by farming and gardening so now it becomes a part of us and it is what we love to do… Doing gardening here makes us feel like we are living in our own country we enjoy.”
Gardeners have enjoyed growing organic food and authentic crops from our different countries. This bring a beauty of sharing our cultural values with our American friends.
Buying organic vegetables is very expensive, but our Community Garden gives us fresh and organic vegetables every week with spending any money.
Most people in our community are on small fixed incomes. Transportation is inadequate for most people in our community and mobility is limited. This is why our Garden is vital. Our community gardens provide much needed fresh, healthy fruits, vegetables, and herbs right here in our own neighborhood.
Rev. Dr. Esther Ngomuo