How does your garden grow?

How does your garden grow?

A guest blog from our associate partners, the URC.

Why is it easier to be kind to plants than to people, asks Ann Honey, church-related community worker with the United Reformed Church.

I work in Wingrove, an area of Newcastle Upon Tyne. It’s a multicultural area and I find myself working with other projects to build community.  

One project I have been working with for a few years is the Greening Wingrove Project. It brings together a wide spectrum of “green” initiatives, to build a sense of community and to preserve the planet’s resources.

Recently, we have been running planting sessions, giving free plants and advice, showing residents who don’t have a garden how they can grow ‘vertical veg’, talking about compost and other gardening tips.

I’ve not got green fingers: despite my best efforts, plants die, plants fail to thrive. I give them what I think they need but sometimes I’ve over-watered, sometimes I’ve put them in a place where they haven’t had enough sunshine. Occasionally I have forgotten about them altogether.

But in all these experiences – I’ve never blamed the plant.  I’ve never said “you’re a stupid plant – it’s your own fault – why aren’t you flourishing?”

When a plant is not flourishing we change the environment. We bring it into the light, we water it differently, we give it nutrition.

So why, when people don’t thrive, do we tell them it’s their own fault? Why are they demonised in the newspapers as being totally to blame?

My heart and my work says that here is the contextual theology I learned about in college: all people are God’s people, this is God’s community – and if there are those who are not thriving, we should address their environment, we should bring them into the light, we should look to the problems that are contributing to a lack of flourishing – and help them to live life in all its fullness.

The URC believes in the Church as an agent of social change. Our church-related community projects help communities flourish by activating their own resources to address their own needs, build partnerships, and confront injustice. Church-related community work is a recognised ministry in the URC and qualified community workers from other denominations can apply to join our programme.

The URC will be joining us at the festival this year as Associate Partners, challenging us with the question: Scrap the Church?