Building a Garden of Peace

Five years ago, after Edina Morningside Community Church removed a dumpster from its east lawn, a group of staff and members began to ponder what to do with the area. “Some people just wanted the lawn to look better and some wanted outside places to sit, but others were already thinking about land stewardship,” says Barb Green, a member and avid gardener. “It took a while to put all of those things together.”

Today, the east lawn has been transformed into a garden of beauty, peace, and sustainability. It’s also a public gathering space where the community is invited to stop, sit, and wander, say Green and her husband Charlie, who helped spearhead the transformation.

The garden includes new stone paths, a patio, native plantings, and terraces where vegetables are grown for the VEAP food shelf. Boulders from a house being renovated down the street were repurposed for the garden, and a church member refurbished three benches. A peace pole with four languages (Dakota, English, Spanish, and Swahili to honor the church’s partnership with school in Kenya) was installed, along with a rain barrel and garden.

Church volunteers provided the labor to implement the garden designed by Scott Herbst of Watercolour Design. “It was a natural campaign,” says Charlie. “People just came forward with donations of time and money when they saw what we were doing.” The church’s “Green Team” (not named after Barb and Charlie, they emphasize!) tends the garden, but the goal is to make it as easy to care for and sustainable as possible.

The neighborhood has embraced the garden, says Barb, and the vegetable terraces are providing a great way to talk with the community about VEAP and food insecurity. “Our neighbors love it and stop by frequently. It puts the church outside the building.”

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2021