MLF Community First! Garden

As you I am sure know by now, our garden at the old Holy Trinity / City School site is no more. After casting about for what to do next, Steven Hebbard ask us at Christ Church to get more involved with what MLF is doing at their Community First! garden in northeast Austin. The church leadership agreed that serving in that way would be a good direction to head, so here we are, arrived at what is next – we will serve with the MLF gang at their garden this spring.
Eventually, if we choose, there will be opportunities for Christ Church to take ownership of some part of the garden. For now, I want to encourage individuals, families and groups from CC to come out and see what all the fuss is about. Because the fuss is about God and His amazing love for us, that’s what.
Sign up to volunteer here
Read about what a volunteer day might look like here and here

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The end, for now

Sad news on the garden front. The new property lessee ask us to be out by March 1st. Apparently, the sewage system needs to be redone and it runs directly and shallowly under the garden (oh, crap! Literally.)
So, we are out.

What now? We could up and quit, but that doesn’t sound like Christ calling to me.

I can think of three choices -
1) wait until CC finds land to rebuild
2) find a new, temporary host site
3) partner with other churches to build gardens on their property, setting the garden up and then working along side until the host church takes over. We could be Christ Church Appleseed. Or Johnny Christ Church. Don’t get too hung up on the name, just now.
I like option 3, but I want to hear from you.

Thank you to everyone who has served in the garden. I hope and pray it has blessed Austin’s homeless, MLF, CC and all who worked in it. I can tell you that it has blessed me!

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Our last harvest of carrots et al -

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What Up With That February Edition

The winter garden is just about kaput, and none too soon, as it is almost -
SPRING PLANTING TIME!
YES!
Spring is when everyone, even the most metropolitan, 5th generation removed from the land, city slickers (he’s right behind me, isn’t he? (Curly (Jack Palance) that is)) among us long to till the earth. To feel the crumbling soil, smell the fragrant loam, and you know, all that flowery crap. My goal is to channel all those misguided gardening urges into building community and serving the Lord. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?
So here is the plan – (I’ve run this by Seth while we held court at the Whip In as the soaker hoses ran last Saturday morning, so this holds water. By the way, we were greeted at the Whip In by Anastasia, the morning barkeep, with “They’re alive!” It was like we were Norm at Indian/78704 Cheers.)

So, the plan -

1 We harvest the last of the carrots and broccoli.
2 We rip everything up.
3 We pull up all the trellising.
4 Then we have the Monty Don, Double Dig, compost and fertilizer extravaganza.
5 Then we plant tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, that is. That’s right, just tomatoes. Both Seth and I believe that our small garden is just too distracted when we plant all the fun stuff we want to grow. So we are going to focus on tomatoes. And we are going to grow an absolute manure ton of them.

First thing first, Team McAlister / Chilton is working this weekend. They will harvest the carrots and any broccoli still around. Then they will pull all living things from the garden.
Then, over the next few weeks we’ll let the garden lie fallow before the big rebuild.

Onwards, to tomatoes!

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What Up With That – Mid-January Edition

The McAlister / Chilton small group, those stalwarts of garden labor, came out this weekend and they reported that the garden was a little sad and a lot dry. But they fixed that – they watered, they fertilized, they trimmed back the snap peas (I have no idea if that will trigger more growth and production, but it’s not going to hurt them any, since they were done producing and just hanging out (literally)) and they thinned the carrots.
No photos from them, so just take a moment and picture them smiling and working. In my mind, they are all wearing overalls and straw hats with matching plaid shirts. They look pretty cheesy.
The Evans family took advantage of the Christ Church “urban plunge” and went out to see what’s new at the MLF main garden. As is the usual, we had a great time. We worked (my wife, Ellen, got to spread coffee grounds in the leafy pathways to make in situ compost. What a great idea and a good smelling job, too), we had community, we had brunch. It was wonderful brunch with fresh garden salads, sweet potato pancakes and some kind of Indian spice beans that were fantastic. Oh, and bacon. Hipsters love bacon. Ok, everybody loves bacon.
I highly recommend everyone get over to see Steven and the gang at MLF. God is at work in amazing ways over there and you can go be a part of it, which I think is pretty awesome that God would let us in on that.
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What Up With That – Christmas Edition

Not much happening in the garden right now in the way of work or volunteerism. It is kind of taking care of itself over the Christmas Holiday.
I did go out and harvest two more servings of snap peas. They look pretty tasty. Ok, they are pretty tasty. I had to try a few to see which ones to include in the harvest. It’s called quality control, people.
Some broccoli is coming on well

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Some cauliflower is not

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That’s all that’s happening for now.
For those wondering about the terms “permablitz” and “double digging” and “Monty Don”, there you go.

What Up With That – December edition

The garden continues to thrive in spite of recent cold temperatures. That is the beauty of the Texas gardening season, you can grow something year round.
I harvested a ton (ok, three servings) of snap peas.

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I’m considering our own miniature “permablitz” (not a good idea without really, really good cornerbacks) where we will double dig our garden Monty Don style. More on that later.

What Up With That – November Edition

The garden grows! Turnips and some radishes have been harvested. More on the radishes later.

Special thanks to members of the Chilton / McAlister Small Group for working last weekend. I met them, one was named Matt, which was an easy name for me to remember. So Matt and them, thanks!

Seth Henry, that stalwart yeoman of garden labor (I’ve been watching a lot of college football lately and am beginning to sound like an announcer) is hitting the garden this Saturday.

So, the radishes. They were rad-ish and radishing and, well,  that is all the radish puns I have for now. The above gang harvested them (or actually, their children did) with great care and then handed them over to me to prepare and deliver to MLF for distribution to the homeless. Fresh radishes, yes!

Actually, no.

I trimmed and cleaned and rinsed and dried them. I packaged them and put them in the crisper drawer.

here they are! Red, purple, white! Crisp and delicious!

here they are! Red, purple, white! Crisp and delicious!

And then later that night, I came down with the most unlikable stomach flu I have encountered in quite some time. As I lay on my comfortable bed, in my climate controlled house, within feet of my own personal toilet, I thought “I cannot give those radishes that I handled to the homeless. I cannot give the homeless this illness.” I also thought, “this is the worst” and “kids are walking petri dishes, little nasty germ dispensers. I never used to be sick before we had children!”

Lets focus on the first thought, though. I did not give the radishes to the homeless. More importantly, I prayed and am praying for the homeless that are ill. I don’t know what else to say but that my heart breaks for them. We’ve all been ill. It is the worst. Can you imagine being sick on the street? No toilet. No medications. No comfort.

I doubt I am the first person that this problem has occurred to. I bet there are things we can do to help. I will look into it and post here. But, for now, please pray. For God the Healer! The Comforter!

This is not the way it is meant to be. Use us, Lord! Build Your Kingdom here!

What Up With That – October 29th edition

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Our new snap pea trellis grid, thanks to Carmen McAlister. I told her it didn’t have to be perfect, but probably should be as close to perfect as she could muster, just to be safe. She came through with a fine job of it.

gg102913b Ravishing Radishes. That name is still unused by any major groups, if you are looking for a new band name.

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What Up With That – October 7th 2013 edition

Thanks to the Coelho small group for their gardening efforts this weekend. They report completion of their entire task list. Way to goes, Coehlos.

This week – the youth group returns! Praise God!

Also for placement on your radar, MLF/GG is having a big build day on the 19th of this month. They are calling it a “Permablitz”, which I thought was just a silly word they made up in honor of football season, but it is actually a “thing” – read about it here. To sign up go to http://mlf.org/volunteer/volunteersgg/ . They promise lots of labor, sweating and suffering, so skip your morning workout and come join us.

What Up With That – October 1st Edition

Here Lies Broccoli

Here Lies Broccoli

So we had a little bit of failure at the garden. Ok, a lot of failure. We lost like 75% of our Broccoli and Cauliflower transplants. Too much heat and too little watering. Mostly, the not watering part. They went in and it rained shortly after, so I thought, no biggie, it is 96 and dry now, they can make it. They could not. All the little planting tags were still there, presiding over dead or absent plants, tombstones memorializing my incompetence. Well, I always wanted to be remembered.

But, we are not deterred. The garden is one big metaphor for Christian life, so this weekend, we focused on the following – second chances, redemption, re-birth, forgiveness and some more of those seed parables (which must of really hit home with an agrarian society). So we replanted again. More transplants planted, more seeds sown.

Fall Planting (Again!)

Fall Planting (Again!)

We were joined by the Foulkrod Family and part of the Fowler family to work the garden. It was the first non-official meeting of the non-official Christ Church Fostering Group.

A little background – A couple of years ago, I was at the garden to meet the youth group when I felt Christ call for me and my family to start fostering children. It was definitely Jesus’ idea, because it sure wasn’t mine. It also sounded a lot like him, and not much like me.  Now Christ is raising up more people at Christ Church to foster too! And they are all gullible enough to be tricked into garden work!

So we are thankful that Christ is using us, using the garden. It is good to see His hand in action and His work coming to fruition.

It all made me think of this song. I recently stumbled across this on a recommendation and recognized that we have sung it in church. It is Rend Collective Experiment and they are a bunch of Irish hispters. They would fit right in at the garden. But I digress. The song is “Build Your Kingdom Here”. I love it. Build it here – in this Church, in this Garden, in our Homes, in this City! Build it, we pray.

Also, what is that banjo / pogo stick / drum thing and can we get one for our worship band?