Emmanuel Farm “Putterers” in full swing
Every weekend during the growing season, we gather for light garden chores, visits, coffee, and the shared vision of coming alongside our vulnerable neighbors by providing them with healthy food. Those who participate regularly comment on the peace found digging in the rich soil, surrounded by the sounds and sights of the blessed Pacific Northwest in the summer. Come join the fun! No gardening experience needed. If you’ve always wanted to learn to grow your own food, this is where to learn!
9:00-11:00AM Saturday mornings
Seed Starting Class to Kick off the 2019 Growing Season
February 16, 2019
Starting seeds, especially in the midst of a harsh winter, has always felt like one of the most optimistic of undertakings. Each life cycle, whether it’s seasons, soil, or even our own, begins rooted in hope. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to start plants from seed, gain confidence, or just enjoy some camaraderie with fellow gardeners, join us for this celebratory kick off to Emmanuel Farm’s second season. It’s safe to say we’re way overdue for some sign of spring!
Slow Down and Smell the…Beans?
February 4, 2019
In her book “There Is A Season”, Joan Chittister observes that “life, Ecclesiastes leads us to understand, is not about change; life is about sowing. And therein lie both the struggle and the gift. The function of each succeeding generation is not to demand change; it is to prepare for it. The function of one generation is to make change possible for the next. The real function of each generation is to sow the seeds that will make a better world possible in the future”. These words have burrowed into my heart as our Emmanuel Farms team takes on the urgent work of another growing season. The immediacy of all the lists of “to do’s” invite exhaustion- order and start seeds, set dates for work parties, reconfigure our committee, prioritize projects, ramp up social media outreach, do we add laying hens this season? Should we try to grow wheat for making communion bread? What pollinators do we have in place for our orchard bees this spring? What orchard trees are best for the food forest? Well, you recognize the familiar tune… we all have our own version looping ad nauseam in the background of our consciousness. But here’s the deal. Joan is right. We are placed here to sow seeds. Yes, literally, but more notably, spiritually, and that can’t happen running at a breakneck pace. In this world, our haste easily deafens us to God’s whispers. This year, our crew has joyously decided to “slow down and smell the”… beans? squash? There will be events; there will be projects; there will be obstacles, but our resolve this season is to sit back and glory in God’s fingerprints, to remember that if He is indeed out in front of us, we need to look up to follow. All good things come in due time. It’s not ours to rush it. Here’s to a truly “sustainable”, holy 2019 season!
Winding Down as Fall Approaches
While fall usually represents new energy, as in the start of school, getting back to the grindstone after summer adventures, it’s a quieter, introspective time in the garden. Our “putterings” on Saturday mornings have lately involved cleaning up the beds, putting in a few last crops and watching the crows make short work of the sunflower heads- see photo below of the wood rail. Think its time for a scarecrow if anyone is feeling inspired! The Farm committee and key volunteers recently shared an evening of dinner and discussion visioning the next season. There were many lessons learned this year, not the least of which is when a pack of sunflower seeds estimate a maximum height of 6 feet, don’t believe it! If you’ve driven by the garden this summer, you’ll know what we’re talking about. We could also be better about rotational cropping to maximize yields. For now though, it’s enough to reflect on what has been accomplished this inaugural year, with all the threads that have woven this project into the heart of the Bothell community and beyond.
Underground Ministries- latino prisoner relationship, resurrection, and reentry (https://undergroundministries.org)
Campbell Farm- Community outreach to Yakama First Nations youth (https://www.thecampbellfarm.org)
Maywood Hills Elementary School
Bothell Community Preschool
Maltby Food Bank
Mary’s Place- Emergency shelter for homeless families (http://www.marysplaceseattle.org/)
Presbyterian Church USA Hunger Program
Galway Kinnell noted “Sometimes it’s necessary to reteach a thing it’s loveliness”. For us, this garden has become a vessel through which the mirror of God is held up in a constantly reciprocal, and regenerative, fashion.
PCUSA has discovered Emmanuel Farm
I recently received a text from a friend who had heard from another friend (you getting this so far?) in Florida that she had seen Emmanuel Farm highlighted in a presentation by the coordinator of the Presbyterian Church USA Hunger Program. We're also fortunate to be hosting a visit from Andrew Kang Bartlett, PCUSA's Associate for National Hunger Concerns, in October. This gentleman graciously sheperded us through writing a grant proposal for funding of next year's expenses. Although the outcome of that request is as yet unknown, the attention from PC headquarters is humbling yet validating at the same time. We must be on some kind of right path even as it continues to unfold and evolve in unexpected ways.
September: Flowing with the season
""I feel it in the air, the summer's out of reach" as Don Henley will attest to in the tune The Boys of Summer. As we push for one last installation of fall veg (lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli), we turn our attention toward putting the garden to bed soon. Cover crops will soon follow to nourish biota, improve water infiltration, reduce weeds and fix that precious nitrogen in the soil. The raised beds hunker down just like the rest of us as the days turn short. One last hurrah will take place on October 6th, 10:00-2:00 as we bookend this inaugural year with Emmanuel's Fall Festival. Details will follow but so far, there will be cider pressing, live music, fall goodies and crafts for the kids. The Bothell Community Preschool and kids from Campbell Farms from Wapato will represent many in that particular demographic! In the meantime, there are a few Saturday mornings left for anyone who wants to join the "putterers" at 9:00 AM..
July: Obstacles, what obstacles?
Lessons in humility are thankfully ever present and necessary lest we start failing to appreciate how truly difficult it is for things work right the first time. In other words, how much we need each other and their expertise. After several trips to Maltby Food Bank and planning our inaugural event with Mary's Place Northshore these past few months, the task of installing irrigation could no longer be ignored. It's not a stretch to say that this enterprise has sent shivers up my spine since the idea of the farm took form last summer. It's just all so... technical! Well, my approach to technical is just jump in and learn as you go with great stores of patience. It turns out those stores were tested to the limit and went AWOL when needed. We got it all installed, turned the faucet handle and voila- success! Until the timer didn't work... After two weeks of attempts by our crack landscaper cum contractor and a retired Boeing engineer, we resorted to calling an irrigation service who straightened it all out in about 15 minutes. Sigh...
A few shots of the past month's activities.
June: Fence almost finished, First delivery to Maltby Food Bank
A corp of dedicated individuals pitched in for two days of intense work- plus all the accoutrements that our male folk relish- sod cutter, check. Auger, check, air compressor, check. The Farm is almost rabbit proof, and just in time as our crops are beginning to flourish. One of our unexpected highlights has been the almost constant flow of curious dog walkers passing by and stopping to engage in conversation. One young lady actually requested a bible from our library- now that's food and faith in action!
Maltby Food Bank received it's first delivery from us yesterday. A collection of lovely lettuce and radish varieties. Dear friend and fellow congregant Lois Robinson was there to greet us. Here we go!
April: Now the waiting begins...
After a few more hours of compost loading, the day of planting finally arrived. There's something so hopeful and restorative about putting a seed in ground and waiting to see what emerges, very much like putting our faith in God to see what emerges... And we were distinctly reminded of the blessings of His creatures, surrounded by the invigorating scent of manure! Stay tuned for more events as the fencing and irrigation system are next.
April: Building Beds Despite the Weather
We weren't quite as fortunate this time around with the precipitation and wind but our stalwart hearts and (now very sore) muscles saved the day. 8 16 x 4 Douglas Fir raised beds in place and partially filled with lovely soil. For anyone with a little time on their hands this week (HA!), there will be folks here Monday, April 9th at 10:30AM and 1:00PM as well as Saturday, April 14th at 9:00AM. Shovels and wheelbarrows are much appreciated. This is the big push so we can start growing-
March: First Work Day; We Are Funded!
About 20 congregants came out to participate in our first work party day for Emmanuel Farm. Despite a few threatening clouds, the weather held as we removed the sod from about a third of the eventual garden space and laid the templates for the raised beds. A few Cub Scout families from the neighborhood came to pitch in after a field trip where they had used our parking lot as a launching site. Interestingly, one of the families now live in the Knowles old home along 104th Street. Talk about coming full circle!!! Even Peaches the pit bull had a great time, as you can see from the photos... Thank you for making this such a rewarding, spirit filled start to the project! Photos are by our own Nancy Higgins.
Another bright spot, our grant application for $5312 has been approved by the NW Coast Presbytery. This grant allows the project to go forward without having to make any compromises of our original plan. Large ticket items include materials for the raised beds, topsoil and an irrigation system. We so appreciate your confidence in and support of this endeavor. God is indeed “changing the landscape” and we are thrilled to be along for the ride!
Emmanuel Farm Ground Breaking
On March 17th at 9am we will break ground on the farm as we cut sod and level plots for the raised beds. We welcome you to join us! Also, check out updates about the farm on our Facebook Page by clicking here.
Emmanuel Farm is Almost Here!
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” -Genesis 2:15
Last fall you heard inklings of a garden that would soon erupt in the front lawn of the church. This project has undergone a myriad of different iterations as obstacles and possibilities ebbed and flowed. The garden committee is so appreciative of all your ideas and concerns as the process has unfolded. We are now on the precipice of beginning the grand adventure, eagerly awaiting the sun’s warmth and light to give new life to our vision.
Very soon you will see stakes and string outlining the space the garden will occupy smack dab in the front lawn of the church. The reasons for this placement are integral to the mission: 1) the plants need lots of sunlight! and 2) this placement invites all who pass by to “come and see” what is happening in their neighborhood. As Dave notes in his most recent Pastor’s blog, “The church is not the point. The church points to the Point”. It is our fervent hope that the garden and its bounty will point to God in our midst, how he’s working through our congregation, immediate neighborhood and the Bothell community.
In terms of logistics, we hope to break ground in mid to late March. There will likely be at least two opportunities for the church family to come together to build and fill raised beds, and install a critter-proof fence, so grab your wellies and a shovel! Details will follow soon. The fruits of all labors will go toward two causes:
1. The families of Mary’s Place Northshore (www.marysplaceseattle.org). “Empowering Homeless Women, Children and Families to Reclaim Their Lives”. Their volunteer coordinator offered a surprising statistic- 97% of these families will be homeless only ONCE in their lifetimes. What an honor to come alongside them as they work toward healing and stability. He is eager to welcome our congregation to come alongside these souls to prepare meals together or teach a cooking class.
2. Maltby Food Bank (www.maltbyfoodbank.org/wordpress). Their tagline is “Hands Reaching Out to People in Need…”. EPC’s own Lois Robinson is deeply involved with the organization. She has wonderful stories about the families who access their services- ask her sometime!
3. Finally, we hope to provide floral bouquets for a small donation after church as supply allows.
As the ministry evolves, many unforetold possibilities and associations will emerge. There will be hiccups. There will be pivots. That’s the fun of it- letting it organically “become” over time. My graduate advisor (this is my graduate project for my Master’s degree in Agriculture via WSU) is adamant that the more “real life” this is, the better. We learn from the hiccups and pivots so much more than the easily gained successes.
You may be as involved (or not) as you wish. We anticipate gathering a few times a week for anyone interested to get in the garden but there are so many other ways you can participate. Ever dream of becoming a master of mason bees (they don’t sting!)? Want to become the king of compost? Feel a calling to coordinate a dinner at Mary’s Place? PLEASE share your ideas and dreams with any of our dedicated committee members: Bram Melse, Ian McFeron, Kristel Dillon, Loren Steinhauer, Carol Steinhauer
-Lori Mercer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emmanuel Farm Mission Statement
Emmanuel Farm is a non-profit, volunteer and grant-based organization affiliated with the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Bothell, WA. Utilizing a portion of the church grounds along with sustainable agricultural techniques, the mission of Emmanuel Farms is to produce healthy, nutritious food for the benefit for those living in food-vulnerable circumstances. The majority of food produced at Emmanuel Farms is utilized as a vessel which connects us with these individuals through shared meals and experiences.
Through classes, seminars, and hands on participation, members of the congregation and community are invited to learn about sustainable and permaculture food production techniques. In this way, Emmanuel Farms operates as a vehicle which fosters community while promoting efforts geared toward greater ecological, economic, and social sustainability.
The Farm provides the opportunity for Emmanuel Presbyterian Church to expand its continued efforts to live out Christ’s greatest commandment, which compels us to care for those living in need. As we strive for good stewardship of the Earth and all its inhabitants, it is our hope that Emmanuel Farms continually sees God’s hand at work; that we may be one piece in the broader effort to achieve a healthier, more stable, and more compassionate world.
If you are on Facebook, please check out our Emmanuel Presbyterian Farms page and LIKE it to stay informed and involved. https://www.facebook.com/Emmanuel-Presbyterian-Farm-186883081907070/