On a piece of land in Jamestown, Mich., Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids is teaching children about gardening and creation care.
Church members Gary and Maxine Kuipers offered space on their farm in 2006; Dawn Hendriksen then worked to create the garden ministry. Children from the congregation, as well as children from other ministry programs, began making visits to the garden.
Children and adults of all ages are invited to participate. As children become more experienced or older, they are able to take leadership roles. Children who began in the earlier stages of the Neland Children’s Garden Ministry now teach younger children and newer participants.
“[Attendance] has varied over the years,” said Hendriksen, “but we usually have about 10 to 15 adults and 30 to 40 children on our roster.”
The garden offers access to a variety of plants—acorn squash, basil, beans, broccoli, carrots, collards, corn, cucumbers, dill, eggplant, and 14 other kinds of vegetables are grown in the garden. Members care for and harvest kale, kohlrabi, and sunflower seeds.
“We grow vegetables from A to Z,” said Hendriksen, “with summer squash and zucchini by the hundreds some weeks.”
Neland Avenue CRC offers visits every Wednesday until the end of August, with additional periodic after school trips throughout the fall.