Hawaiian church promotes sustainability, reaps what it sows
Written by Diane Weible
October - November 2008

Local community members and Church of the Pacific UCC congregants regularly tend to the shared garden. Glenn Frazier photo.
Community gardening aids environment

It took almost four months for the first seeds to be planted in the community garden, but today many people are benefiting from an effort that began with a seed of an idea from a member of Church of the Pacific UCC on Kauai, Hawaii.

Deeply concerned about the lack of sustainable agriculture on the island, Gabrielle Pla knew small steps to encourage gardening could make a positive difference in the community. For this reason, she volunteered to take the lead in creating a community garden.

"At the beginning I felt there was a real need for good, affordable produce," she said. "The community garden would provide good food and good community among people on the North Shore." A group of 20 people joined the effort. Each person paid $25 to have Joseph Dunsmore, an agricultural specialist at Kauai Community College, come to the church to give classes on gardening, soils, crops, and marketing. Class participants then got together to work on the garden. These workers, most of whom had no prior church affiliation, chose a site on the church property, rototilled, dug, weeded, watered, and now are harvesting the plentiful greens. 

Some creative members within the group encouraged thinking "outside the box." As a result, traditional straight planting lines were tossed out and a labyrinth pattern was created. Pastor Glenn Frazier said this design has stimulated significant interest from people driving by the church.

In August, eight large bags of greens were harvested from the garden and distributed at the weekly North Shore Food Pantry. Glenn said that when Gabrielle was able to help with the harvesting of those bags of greens, she knew her commitment to Church of the Pacific UCC and its commitment to the community were coming together.
 
"I have, from the beginning, been amazed at the sustained interest and participation," she said. "Now we have adequate produce for everyone who wants it and still have plenty to give to the community food pantry."

Besides emphasizing sustainability and encouraging healthy eating habits, the garden hopes to stimulate others in the community to learn what is necessary to get the deficient soils of Kauai to produce great gardens. Already, more gardens are being planted in tiny home boxes as well as on large land plots.
 
Glenn summed it up: "The creative teamwork is a wonderful exercise in earth stewardship, affirmed as the group digs its toes into the fertile earth, holds hands in prayer, and offers thanks to God for the opportunities of this partnership!" 

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