Church of the Apostles in Wayne Heights

Starting Community Garden for the Public in May 

The Record Herald, By Matt McLaughlin

April 30, 2010

Interim Pastor Michael Cromer wants to establish a community garden at Church of the Apostles


gardennewsBob Benchoff, chair of the outdoor ministry committee at Church of the Apostles, right, surveys the area where the Barnett Avenue church plans to establish a community garden. Committee member Angela Weagly and church member Richard Hovis are ready to get the ministry started.Church of the Apostles on Barnett Avenue would like to see some growth this summer — of fruits, vegetables and flowers in a new community garden on the church’s property.


Interim Pastor Michael Cromer and the outdoor ministry committee plan to establish the community garden in May near the rear of the church, which sits on several acres of property.


A community garden is a single piece of land gardened by a group of people. It can be nurtured communally or divided into individual plots for personal use. Community gardens have become popular in urban areas because they give people without land a spot to grow their own food and bring members of a community together.


The church’s garden will be divided into individual plots for the personal use of each gardener and open to the public.


“It’s really open to anybody in the Waynesboro area and there’s no fee associated with it,” Cromer said. “The plots will vary in size depending on what size a person wants.”


New pastor, new idea
Church of the Apostles’ former pastor, the Rev. Dr. Carol A. Kipe retired in January after 20 years with the Wayne Heights church.


Cromer became interim pastor in March. As part of the United Church of Christ, the church must create a profile of itself, identifying its needs, before hiring a permanent pastor.


Cromer thought of the idea of a community garden the first time he saw the church property, according to Bob Benchoff, chair of the church’s outdoor ministry committee.


“We were thinking of some ways for people to know that the church is here,” Cromer said. “(A community garden) is kind of a non-threatening way to introduce yourself to the community or be known to the community.”


“We had a positive response from all the committee members,” Benchoff said.


Reaching out
Cromer and members of the outdoor ministry committee agree a community garden is a great way to reach out to the community and provide for its needs at the same time.


“A lot of people don’t go to church today and I think it gives us an opportunity to present church in a different way — a non-traditional way — maybe for people who have bad experiences with churches,” Cromer said. “It’s less threatening to people who have not been to church for a long time or maybe have never been to church.”


“I think the purpose, of course, of our ministry is to meet the needs of others,” Benchoff added. “The community garden will provide people a place to grow flowers and vegetables, who might not otherwise be able to do that.”


“It’s a good outreach to the community,” said Angela Weagly, a member of the outdoor ministry committee.


The church hopes to involve experienced gardeners in the community garden so those who are new to the hobby will have a resource to learn from, and believes the garden will create a totally new community.


“A garden really creates a community of people,” Cromer said. “People get together that would have never met each other in any other way.”


Anyone interested in having a plot in the garden or more information about the project should call Cromer at 816-2940.

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