Some of the residents in the condominiums next door to Christ Community Christian Reformed Church in Tualatin, Oregon, had negative comments about the church. They complained about the dusty driveway, cars sitting in the parking lot for days, and the noise level.
Meridith Kruse enjoys vegetables from the Abundant Blessings Community Garden.
But ever since church members offered free plots in its community garden to those neighbors, relationships have turned much more positive. “[The neighbors] started talking up the community garden and said if we got any complaints to let them handle it. All of a sudden we only heard good things about the church from the condos,” said Virgil Michael, minister of Christ Community.
Abundant Blessings Community Garden consists of forty plots. Eight of them are maintained by neighbors in the condos next door. Margi Peterson, a resident of the condos said, “When my neighbor approached me last spring, asking if I would be interested in joining the community garden at the church next door, I had no idea how much fun was in store. Over the months, our garden grew, we learned some new gardening techniques, met fellow gardeners, marveled over the bounty the garden was providing, and shared the fruits of our labor at a harvest social.”
Of the 12-person committee overseeing the garden, nine are from the community, and two of them live in the condos next door. The committee looks after tilling, contacting potential gardeners, helping participants maintain their plots, and maintaining equipment.
Committee members added a Memorial Garden this spring. Local businesses and nurseries donated 12 fruit trees and six blueberry bushes. Melissa Laninga, who attends Christ Community and serves on the committee said, “We now have a fruit orchard. Without this committee and their dedication, this would not have been possible.”