By Nancy Bergeron
When the Rev. Cathy Brewton first dreamed of what is now LifeHouse Ministries, her vision included a flourishing community garden filled with vegetables, fruit trees and flowers.
The vision is becoming reality. LifeHouse has been awarded a grant from the Lincoln Health Foundation to develop the garden.
“It’s right in our wheelhouse in terms of what we like to see happening,” said Norman Haynes, Lincoln Health Foundation’s chief executive officer. “It really does hit the major hope that we can influenceand change the mindset of folks about healthy nutrition.”
The roughly 20-by-30-foot garden will be located on the LifeHouse grounds at 813 North Trenton St. Preliminary site work is underway. The plot should be ready to plant by fall, said Brewton, the LifeHouse founder and executive director.
The garden will be handicap accessible and feature several raised container boxes a well as traditional in-ground rows.
“We want everybody to be able to participate in the garden,” said Brewton.
LifeHouse plans to collaborate with various educational, medical, community and faith-based organizations to involve people at all ages and stages of life. Some of the harvest will be made available to people who can’t afford to purchase fresh vegetables, will other of the produce will be served during the LifeHouse monthly community meals.
“Having a community garden was part of the original vision and mission statement for LifeHouse. It’s both a ministry and activity of LifeHouse to bring people with that common interest of gardening together,” said Brewton.
She said the garden would also provide educational opportunities to promote better knowledge of and awareness of nutrition and healthy lifestyles throughout the community.
Lincoln Health Foundation’s Haynes called the garden “very exciting to us” in part because the project addresses once of the foundation’s primary initiatives: healthier living via good nutrition.
Brewton sees the garden as that and more. The garden, she said, is part of the LifeHouse mission to tend to the whole person.
LifeHouse is a spiritual formation center with a holistic approach to helping people experience God in nontraditional ways. Gardening can be one of those ways, said Brewton.
“It’s important that we get back to being mindful of how we take care of the earth as stewards of what God has given us,” she said.
She sees the garden as “safe, restful place for people to come and gather” and make new friends.
“You can just come as you are, wherever you are on your journey in life,” said Brewton, a United Methodist deacon.
Donna White is a member of the LifeHouse board of directors and will help oversee the garden.
“Working with plants and planting is very therapeutic,” said White, also a Master Gardener. “I feel like it’s important that people have that experience and LifeHouse wants to provide that space.”
White envisions more than a seasonal garden.
“I think we need to have the garden growing as many months of the year as we can,” she said. “There are things that can be grown year-round. We may have some crop failures, so be it.”
Brewton points to the numerous times in the biblical parables that Jesus talks about the earth, farming or growing things, and how Jesus used those analogies to teach about relationships.
She said she wants the garden to help grow that kind of spiritual food as well as literal food.
“There are parallels between what happens in creation and what happens in our lives,” said Brewton.
For more information about LifeHouse visit, www.lifehouseministriesinc.com
This story was published in the Ruston Daily Leader and used with permission.