Proffering bright-colored organic vegetables free of charge, the Veggie Wagon is a welcome sight in the neighborhoods of south Denver, Colorado.
The Wagon is an outreach of The Table, a Christian Reformed Church plant. For this church, raising vegetables isn’t just a ministry. It’s an identity. The church was birthed as an urban farm. Its core values are “community, nourishment, grace.”
Pastors Craig and Jeanine Broek dreamed up The Table in 2011 as a way to combine their passions—his for the church and hers for gardening and public health.
“The way we gather connections with people is by asking if we can use their space,” said Craig. The church operates gardens in about 25 locations, most of them front or backyards. Members of The Table do all the manual labor. Homeowners donate the water and are invited to volunteer with the gardening if they wish—and some do.
The neighborhood that the couple landed in is upper middle class. Most people there “don’t go to church and don’t want to go to church,” said Craig. “The farm became a way of meeting neighbors and having a mission that people could latch onto.”
The Broeks zeroed in on relationships, without any initial plans for a worship service. Biweekly community meals and a Bible study happened in people’s homes. Church member Ryan Miller began hosting a popular pub theology night, which now draws about 30 people. After four years, the church began holding worship services in late 2015 with about 15 people attending.
Meanwhile, the gardens have been thriving. Half of the food is delivered to local food banks. Once the location of the Veggie Wagon has been broadcasted on social media, neighbors happily accept the gift of free vegetables, a taste of grace even for—perhaps especially for—those who can afford to pay.