Archives for posts with tag: urban garden

Sara Johnson, recently transplanted from Detroit to St Louis, today shared this NPR interview with Riet Schumack.

Riet is growing gardens in Detroit.  Brightmoor is on the northwest side of the city, and in very rough shape.  The Salvation Army used to operate a corps out of a building in Brightmoor but several years ago made a strategic retreat.  Now this transplanted Dutchwoman is there.Riet Schumack

Riet is not only growing gardens in Brightmoor but is also teaching young people gardening and how to market their produce to turn a profit.

Gardens.  Industrious children.  And a deterrent to drug dealing.  brightmoor-gardens-model-djpg-4fc911c4ab016e5d_largeWithin half a year Grayfield Street was clear of dealing, prostitution.  Dealers valued what was taking place with their nieces and nephews, and respected the transformation taking place in the neighborhood.  They showed their respect by moving.

Sometimes, can I say much of the time, the most effective way to deal with an issue is obliquely.  Not direct, smack, straight ahead, dead on.  Money, police, legislation, grandstanding by public figures creates a lot of noise and flash.  Results always seem discouragingly lean.

But a child shall lead them.

There are two types of power at work in our world.  Threat, violence, clout.  And a vulnerable figure bent over a row of string beans on a hot summer day.  child gardening 2

Check out Neighbors Building Brightmoor.


A postscript to the garden in the city.

John sent this to me in October.  Sunbeams is the Salvation Army program for girls age 6 – 12.

It was magical last night at Temple Corps’ youth activities.

The Sunbeams occupied Temple Gardens and harvested five gigantic sunflowers. First we cut the head off the flower. Then we scraped the seeds out of the flower. The Sunbeams also selected a flower each and picked it to bring home with them.

As we left the garden there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Some of the girls asked if I had made the rainbow for them. Next week we will roast, salt and eat our splendid harvest!

sunflowers and Sunbeams

sunflowers and Sunbeams again

We arrived back home New Years Day from the Urbana conference in St Louis.  Where our son John lives and raises seven chickens in the backyard on Arsenal Street.

They are hens and after weeks of wondering if they would ever produce now provide three dozen eggs a week.  IMG_1068They also provide wonderment to John’s neighbors.  He showed me photos of young people and older residents of his Benton Park neighborhood who participate in Salvation Army activities on the other side of Arsenal.  Holding a hen.  Collecting eggs.  Sometimes staring with wary delight at these city chickens.  These city dwellers make a field trip across the street to an urban farm.

It seems incongruous.  Farm life in the city.  But John says there are others in the neighborhood raising chickens and growing vegetables.Betsy gardening with the children  Summer 2012

Today the Chicago Tribune features a king of compost.

Lisa Boone writes of Steven Wynbrandt who lives in Los Angeles and sells at $1 a pound rich dark organic material from the compost heap he’s created in his backyard.

“I’m an alchemist,” Wynbrand says.  His mother June agrees. “It’s more than beautiful.”  Looking out the kitchen window she says “it’s magical.”

Wynbrandt Farm

Check out Steven’s page for the Wynbrandt Farm and Wynbrandt Biodynamic Compost.

There is something magical, wonderful about finding fresh eggs and vegetables in LA, inner city St Louis or a number of cities across the USA.  Even strutting peacocks in yards near Woodward Avenue in Detroit.  It made me slow down to make sure that it was what I thought I saw.

As children it mystified us.  The green sprout growing out of a seed wrapped in a moist paper towel.

And now as urban dwellers we are surprised, and delighted by this echo of our agrarian ancestors now returning to us.


After a hot day the Temple Houses are ready to travel for ice cream at Crown Candy!

They look happy.  In anticipation of ice cream and a cooler summer evening.

I was in St Louis for the weekend.  Sunday morning at the Salvation Army’s Belleville IL Corps with Captains Heath and Anita Sells.  Heath and Anita served with us for a summer in the 1990s on Detroit’s west side.  They are friends and colleague officers.  They are also developing a proposal for greenhouse gardening with the support of interested community backers offering resources to make it happen.  Gardening and job training.

The picture shows Temple House people Saturday evening about to travel to the north side for ice cream at Crown Candy.  John and I had chocolate malts.  We were happy.

In the picture, left to right –

  • Natalie, a transplanted Salvation Army soldier from the Twin Cities in graduate social work studies at Washington University
  • Hilary from Cleveland OH who just arrived last week.  She will help with Temple day camp and other Salvation Army work this summer and then begin the Urban Ministry Internship Program at Temple Houses this September.  UMIP offers practical field experience in St Louis and an urban ministry degree from City Vision College.  Three more interns will soon join Temple Houses.
  • Laura, director of the new CHOICES program sponsored by the Army.  CHOICES will work to develop the full potential of young people and their families living in the Temple neighborhood.
  • Betsy just returned home to Georgia this week after several weeks gardening for the Temple Houses.  She’s responsible for the flower and vegetable beds and general beautification on Temple House grounds.
  • Auxiliary Captains Steve and Ketsia Diaz, officers in charge of the Army’s St Louis Temple on Arsenal Street.
  • front row:  Boone, Kyle and John.  Kyle is Steve and Ketsia’s son, a charmer.  John, my son.  Boone, one of three Temple House dogs.  Yesterday’s post showed Boone taking a break with Lou and Beckham who respectively belong to the Diaz’ and Laura.

Darren, who just completed his urban ministry internship, is away for the summer working in California.  He returns to Temple Houses next month to begin a new phase of internship that allows both intern and The Salvation Army to determine if full-time ministry as a Salvation Army officer is in the future.

John and Captain Steve pondering ice cream choices at Crown Candy

What is the common denominator of Temple House residents?  All are Christians living in shared quarters within a block of the Temple Corps and help with its ministry to the neighborhood.  They are committed to make a difference in the name of Jesus in the Benton Park community of St Louis.

John and Betsy completed this chicken coop last Saturday in the back yard of a Temple House.  Yesterday four hens moved in.  John is thinking omelettes.

John sent this photo showing Betsy G. gardening with children in the St Louis Temple neighborhood.

Betsy arrived a couple weeks ago and plans to stay the summer working the yards around the corps building and Temple Houses on and near Arsenal Street in south St Louis.  John’s sent a few nice Instagrams of the attractive and creative things that have been done.  If I can figure out how to share some of them here, will do.

One Temple House project is backyard chickens.  They built a coop and hope to see some egg production soon.

Gardens.  Chickens.  What will they do next?

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