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
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
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