Growing Awareness

Vegetable garden and apiary remind us that we can all make a difference.
Kale, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts can typically tolerate cold temperatures in a raised garden bed that can be covered.

Colonial Church in Edina is big on visible reminders—reminders that demonstrate stewardship, hospitality and the power of working together. But it’s easy to walk right past these purposely placed prompts without even realizing they’re there.

In fact, I did. I walked right past seven flourishing vegetable gardens right on the front lawn of the church. Little did I know, there’s a lot more to the story.

The Garden

“We are participating in that subtle shift that’s happening throughout the country. That golf-course look, as beautiful as it is, might not be the future,” says pastor Daniel Harrell, who helped initiate the idea of gardens on the church grounds. And not just on the grounds–on the front lawn. “We want to set an example of what one church or one organization or just one person can do,” Harrell says.

The visionary behind the gardens, Bob Dahm, grew up on a farm, but didn’t want to farm in the traditional way. “I was watching my dad and grandfather, and other farmers who helped raise me, die of cancer,” he says. “I didn’t want to farm using the chemicals they were using.”

So he began to use organic fertilizer and alternative methods. “I had unlocked the secret to effective and organic lawn care,” Dahm says.

Harrell and Dahm also wanted to start a giving initiative—something that would encourage others to give back. So minister of outreach Brian Jones reached out to VEAP ( Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People). With Dahm’s help and expertise, Colonial Church has a goal to donate about 600 pounds of fresh and organic produce to VEAP 10 months out of the year. To facilitate growth in the colder months, Dahm constructs a mini greenhouse that he says looks similar to covered wagons in old Westerns.

It’s obvious Dahm has done his homework. Years of experience, hundreds of hours of research, and countless classes and seminars have made him an expert in organic gardening and lawn care and allowed him to run a successful business, Organic Bob. He is also the groundskeeper at Colonial Church. But, all the gardening and harvesting he does is strictly volunteer.

He says, “I wanted to develop a model of growing and donating food that churches, schools and nonprofits could follow so we can give healthy, high-quality food to those who need it most.”

The Bees

Another visible reminder that’s now on the campus of Colonial Church is an apiary. With United Seminary beekeeper and teacher Brandon Krosch as a mentor, the church has successfully started a beehive in its backyard.

Krosch, a third-generation beekeeper, has taught classes for the past three years and understands the parrallels that Harrell sees.

“One thing with many thousands of little members: Together, they can pollinate and make a phenomenal amount of honey.”

Harrell and Krosch extracted the first crop of honey last fall.

Visible reminders continue to grow and flourish at Colonial Church during all months of the year, thanks to many hard-working individuals with a passion for making a difference together.