Planting the Seeds for Covenant Community

Newly expanded community garden a place to engage with theology and the land
CRW Community Garden Flowers

Daniel Heath, MDiv ‘20, has organized many programs and projects for students and their families in his position as the Seminary's first student life resident. This role, in which he will serve for one more year, includes community building and providing pastoral care for students and their families, along with worship leadership and diversity initiatives.

One such project is the recently completed expansion of the Charlotte Rachel Wilson Campus community garden, which added an additional 800 square feet. Each of the 58 plots is attended by Seminary community members and everyone is on their own timetable as to what they plant and when. The garden contains a mixture of flowers, herbs and vegetables, and about 10 egg-laying hens.

“I saw an opportunity for residents to be more involved with the garden, as lots of people go there as a source for their mental well-being, healthy food options, and to engage with the earth,” Heath says.

CRW Community Garden2

Heath’s long-term goal for the garden is to collaborate with the Farminary regarding programming. The Farminary is an educational idea center that sits on a farm owned by the Seminary where theological education is integrated with small-scale agriculture. The Farminary has provided knowledge and guidance for the expansion, helped improve compost facilities in the garden, assisted in constructing a worm composting bin, and donated materials and plants. Educational workshops are planned for the coming academic year.

“For people who are curious about the relationship between the food they eat, the religion they practice, and the memory of the land, becoming familiar with cycles of growth and decay in the garden is a great place to start,” Farminary Fellow Emma Lietz Bilecky says.

The garden provides a perfect location, Heath says, as it is already a communal space where people can engage with each other while gardening, bring their children for a tour, or learn more about gardening.

“The idea is, how can we engage theology and community where we are, not only in the classroom, but also the residential community,” he says.

The Seminary provided the fencing and wood for the expansion, with garden members and their families building the plots. Garden fees paid by the members were used to purchase soil. MDiv student Alli Rudeen Kreider joined the garden committee last year and helped with the expansion. Having grown up on a farm in Kansas, she says she feels at home with her hands in the soil. This is her third season working on her plot, which includes kale, okra, and radishes.

“Having this space to do meaningful work with others is so special, especially coming out of the pandemic,” Kreider says. “Expanding the garden space feels like a metaphor for everyone in this community who was ready to open up and work together, and I’m grateful to be part of the team.”

CRW Community Garden beds

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

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Danielle Shroyer, Class of 1999

“To be in a community where I got to hear so many different perspectives—that was profound for me. I’m grateful for the curiosity, for the practice of learning that was cultivated for me at Seminary.”