I’ve written a proposal outlining the vision for our garden, as well as some of the practical details for how things will work this summer. I’ll post some excerpts here, and you can read the full text here.
The St. Lydia’s Enough for Everyone Garden is a freehold of radical generosity, where growing and eating fresh, healthy food becomes a possibility for everyone.
What We Need is Here
The St. Lydia’s Enough for Everyone Garden grows out of the belief that we and the earth are already equipped with everything we need to provide abundant healthy food for all people, everywhere. This theological premise that what we need is here resonates with statistical data on the ratio of productive farmland to populations worldwide. And yet, nearly one in seven people in the world is hungry (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization). In Brooklyn, 18.4% of people are hungry or “food insecure”–a term that is applied when people have to choose between basic needs like health care and utilities and buying enough food (City Harvest).
Not All Food is Good to Eat
The persistent problem of hunger is compounded in America by the broken way in which our current system of industrially farming and processing food produces an overabundance of nutritionally devoid food-like products that do not contribute to the health or well-being of people who consume them, while fresh, nutritionally rich fruits and vegetables are scarce and prohibitively expensive in many areas. Meanwhile, the pollution of the environment by overuse of pesticides and fossil fuels and the destruction of topsoil by development threaten our future ability to create a sustainable and equitable food system.
A Small Green Patch
Grounded in our faith, and rooted in these realities, St. Lydia’s proposes to assume stewardship of a 20’ x 40’ plot of land in the newly formed community garden at 346 Bergen Street in Brooklyn called A Small Green Patch. After more than 40 years of neglect and abandonment, this land has been given freely unto our care. As temporary overseers of the land, we intend to:
- give freely of our labor to grow food and give the food freely to everyone who wants or needs it
- extend our practice of welcome and hospitality by creating public green space that is open to the community
- be in relationship with our neighbors in Brooklyn, and identify and develop partnership opportunities to make growing and eating fresh food a possibility for everyone.
Take What You Need, Pay What You Can
When the produce is ready to be harvested, the fruits of our labor will be shared freely among volunteers, congregants and the public. This will be done on a take-what-you-need, pay-what-you-can basis, with the understanding that some will pay with time and labor, and others will contribute financially according to their means, and with the further understanding that we give in response to all that we have been given. St. Lydia’s will pay the annual group membership fee for A Small Green Patch of $200. Community members will be encouraged to give freely of the resources available to them according to their means, be it time, muscle, seedlings or tools, but any substantial financial investments in soil, lumber etc. made by individual Lydians will be reimbursed out of the funds raised in collections (receipts for expenses and reimbursements will be recorded and signed by two witnesses). Any funds left over will be invested back into the Garden.
What if there isn’t really enough for everyone? An experiment in living by the radical logic of abundance…
We may be religious, but we are not insane, and we don’t actually expect to grow enough zucchini this summer to feed all of the 2,504,700 people living in Brooklyn. But we believe that if we work to create a culture of generosity, and ground our action in the idea that the more we give away, the more we have, profound change can begin to take place. The healing of our environment, of our economic systems and of our bodies all begins with a healing in our hearts. We believe that we are all, everyone of us, beloved, and are worthy of health, of the holy tiredness that follows work done together and the fullness that settles after sharing a meal. We are telling a story that begins with God’s breath over the deep, and continues in an ongoing, outpouring process of creation in which we, and every creature, plant and drop of water on the earth, are continually taking part.