Grace’s Acre is a vegetable garden on the property of Grace Chapel EPC in Farmington Hills, MI. The objective of this garden is three-fold: To provide fresh produce to the Good Measure Food Pantry (also a ministry of Grace Chapel). To provide an enjoyable outdoor space for community gardening and gathering. To sell produce at market prices in order to sustain the ministry.
For more information or to sign up to grow your own veggies, please email Doug Walker.
Why A Garden?
People tend gardens for a number of reasons – as a hobby, to enjoy the outdoors, or to fill their kitchen with fresh vegetables. Whatever the reason, there’s little doubt that gardening has a number of benefits for people. But, there’s more than just physical and mental advantages gained from working in a garden: There are significant spiritual lessons as well. When you plant a seed and water it, it is God who makes the plant grow and produce fruit, and when it does you begin to recognize His provision and care for the people He created. When weeds pop up and insects attack, you get a fuller understanding of sin and how the soil is cursed because of it. When you grow a cover crop and then turn it under to feed the soil, you start to understand how death brings life. When you are blessed with a harvest, you realize how small your contribution was to its growth and production and you are overcome with thankfulness. All these things are a part of the grand story of the Bible – creation, the fall, redemption and glory – and the garden is God’s classroom, teaching us about these things every time we step foot in one. It is often said that the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. What better way to help grasp the whole of Scripture than to tend a garden in our city?
The Good Measure Food Pantry at Grace Chapel has been providing food to those in need for nearly a decade. It is unique among food pantries in the area, typically offering name brand canned and boxed products, deli lunch meats, eggs and fresh bread. In addition, each family is offered cleaning products and hygiene items they are unable to purchase with their Bridge Card or food stamp allowance. Two years ago, we began offering fresh produce from our community garden, which was enthusiastically received and quickly scooped up! Fresh, locally grown organic produce is a rarity for any food pantry committed to serving the poor. The reason is simple: It’s expensive and it’s perishable. But fresh produce is also the most nutritious and beneficial product a food pantry could ever offer its customers. Providing this will be the first priority of Grace’s Acre.
Connecting people to one another will also be a significant part of Grace’s Acre as we seek to grow relationships, as well as, food. Growing vegetables for the food pantry and the public is labor intensive, so a strong corps of volunteers will be essential to the success and sustainability of the garden. Whether it’s planting, watering, harvesting or packaging items for sale – we need you! In addition to the many volunteer opportunities, there are 16 raised bed plots for individuals or families to grow their own fruits and vegetables. These are made available to Grace Chapel members and neighbors alike, with the hope that friendships will be cultivated as folks care for their vegetables. There will also be regular gatherings to allow everyone connected with the garden to grow their relationships as they grow food.
It is the goal of Grace’s Acre to become self-sustaining through the sale of produce. The two primary markets will be the Grace Chapel congregation and the broader community. The strategy for vegetable sales to Grace Chapel members is to ask them to “shop” at Grace’s Acre to purchase items they would normally buy at the grocery store anyway. In doing so, they will be supporting the garden and food pantry, and receiving vegetables that are pesticide and herbicide free, and, certainly, fresher. There will be a table in the foyer on Sundays during the growing season, and pre-orders will be available during the week prior via the website and email. Produce sales through a farm stand and word of mouth are secondary outlets to generate income, but perhaps, more importantly, to raise awareness of Grace’s Acre.
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Matthew 25:37, 40
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6
The name “Grace’s Acre” is inspired by the term “The Lord’s Acre, which is an international movement that originated in Bluffton, Georgia in 1922, when Rev. Henry M. Melton asked each of the farmers in his congregation to set aside one acre of farmland, donating the proceeds of “the Lord’s acres” to the church. After word spread that these plots were untouched by the boll weevil, the “Lord’s Acre” quickly expanded into an international and interdenominational phenomenon, particularly after its success was reported in Time Magazine. The Lord’s Acre Movement continues to provide funding for churches, having expanded beyond farmland to include projects of donated time and service, and to auctions and sales featuring homemade goods, arts, and crafts.