We are very excited to invite any and all congregations to join the 2021 Good News Gardens cohort of the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan.
This program is our local expression of a churchwide movement empowering congregations to use their land assets to grow good food for the Kingdom. This initiative is made possible through a partnership between the dioceses and Plainsong Farm, an Episcopal and Ecumenical ministry of the Diocese of Western Michigan.
First piloted in 2020 as part of our long-term response to the economic impacts of the pandemic, last year’s Good News Gardens network convened twenty communities across the Mitten to grow over a thousand pounds of produce to be distributed to their neighbors through local food pantries, community partnerships, and more. And we can’t wait to convene once again!
Throughout the season, each participating congregation will have opportunities to learn growing techniques from Plainsong’s lead farmer, to check in with one another in the cohort, and to share in bible study amongst their local team and wider congregation. The Good News Gardens cohort is open to all – congregations with existing community gardens and those breaking ground for the first time, as well as congregations with space on their physical property and those that house their plots off-site.
This email is packed with information about the 2021 growing season, including an upcoming opportunity for a live Q&A, distribution schedules, Bible Study curriculum, optional add-ons and so much more.
Please consider joining us! We can’t wait to get planting together.
WELCOME & GETTING STARTED
Each participating community will receive a pack of eighteen starter seedlings and seeds from Plainsong Farm. This year, you will be able to choose your plants to make sure it’s the best harvest for your garden and for your outreach programs!
Seed distribution sites will be regional, with locations to be determined based on the geographical spread of our cohort. All seeds will be distributed the last week of May 2021.
Don’t need your seeds supplied from Plainsong Farm? Totally fine! We want your voice and experience in our community as we learn and grow together. You can absolutely join the Good News Gardens cohort even if you don’t receive our seeds.
Space for a 75 foot garden, whether in one plot, raised beds, or something else, in full sun and with access to watering (sprinkler system, hose, or reliable volunteers!)
A designated coordinator to serve as point person and program lead.
A team of volunteers (3 or more, any age) to provide garden care throughout the growing season.
Prayer and support for the garden team from the wider congregation.
CONGREGATIONAL BIBLE STUDY
At the beginning of the season, each participating congregation will get access to our Good News Gardens Bible Study curriculum – ten videos hosted by the Rev. Nurya Love Parish, Executive Director of Plainsong Farm, with discussion questions – for use as a team or with wider participation from your congregation. The Bible study focuses on the connection of creation to our land and our food, as taught by the Gospel.
All ten videos will be available at the same time, Netflix binge-style, so you can utilize them on whatever schedule and format works best for your community.
Growing teams will receive resources from Plainsong Farm to support and improve your growing strategy. Plainsong’s Farm Manager, Mike Edwardson, will include ten episodes of video teaching on various aspects of growing, including harvesting, pest-control, watering methods, and more.
MONTHLY COHORT CHECK-IN
Each month, beginning in May and ending in September, the participating congregations will have an opportunity to gather together via Zoom and check-in, ask questions of our Plainsong farmers and program staff, get additional resources, and learn from guest experts.
There are two opportunities to participate each month:
- Lunch Group – 1st Wednesdays of the Month from 11:30-12:30pm
- Evening Group – 1st Thursdays of the Month from 7:30-8:30pm
OPPORTUNITIES FOR MORE
New this year, Plainsong Farm will offer optional opportunities for our participating congregations as additional support and resources for your work. These add-on opportunities will have an associated cost.
On-Site Experience – Churches on the Farm
The imagery of scripture comes alive at the farm when you tend to our pollinator habitat or sow seeds in the fields. Plainsong Farm invites your congregation to the farm for an experience to better understand and participate in the connections between people, places, and God. Bring your youth group, an adult Sunday school class, or your garden volunteers, or some other group. We’ll reflect on scripture, get our hands in some soil, and get to know one another, all while guided by Plainsong’s staff.
Each experience engages groups in activities that underscore God’s good creation and our role as disciples to steward creation.
Onsite experiences are up to two hours in length and Plainsong can accommodate groups of up to 25, while following all diocesan COVID guidelines. A donation of $125-200 is requested to help us pay for staff time and materials.
Local End-of-Season Winterizing Support
At the end of the growing season, Plainsong will send members of their 2021 Episcopal Service Corps team to help winterize your local garden. Proper winterization helps keep your garden healthy and free of pests between seasons, supporting a healthy and sustainable growing season year after year. This extra support costs $100/hour for a crew of four ESC members.
CHURCH COHORT RESOURCES AND LESSONS