The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Garden ministry grows more than vegetables

In Wisconsin, a piece of land connects cultures, ages & time

Connections among people of different ages and cultures. Connections to the land. Connections to the past. Connections to the future. Connections to God. What on earth could grow so many connections?

A garden.

Eileen Bolstad and two boys (names
Eileen Bolstad and two boys (names withheld for their privacy) from the Wexford Ridge Neighborhood Center discover how beans grow as part of a Madison, Wis., garden ministry. The ministry has many partners, including Advent Lutheran Church, and uses land between Advent and Community of Hope United Church of Christ , another partner in the ministry.

This will be the fifth summer for the garden ministry at Madison Christian Community. The MCC is an ecumenical partnership between Advent Lutheran Church and Community of Hope United Church of Christ in Madison, Wis. The two congregations share a building, staff and a piece of land that includes a restored prairie, a rain garden, a memorial garden and the 6,000-square-foot vegetable garden that fosters so many connections.

Jeffrey T. Wild, pastor of Advent, said the idea for the garden ministry came to him as an “aha” moment during a walk on a nature trail near his home. “I saw a great opportunity for a connection between our church and Wexford Ridge, which is only one mile away,” he said.

While the MCC is surrounded by large, comfortable homes, Wexford Ridge, just down the road, is a neighborhood of subsidized housing with a relatively high crime rate.

“For me it was a longing to connect with people beyond our congregation in a way that was meaningful for all of us,” Wild said. “And growing vegetables was a way to do it.”

The ministry is a partnership of the MCC and the Wexford Ridge Neighborhood Center , which runs an eight-week summer day camp for children. During those eight weeks, the children meet with volunteers from the MCC two mornings a week for about two hours.

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February issue


Embracing diversity