An Episcopal parish in the city has found a creative way to use their space to both grow food and reduce their carbon footprint.
“We’re trying to be a model,” said J.B. Hoover, parishioner and garden volunteer. “An urban parish can do something. It’s not limited to a suburban or rural parish that has a lot of land.”
Approaching St. Andrew’s front side shows a mid-1950s A-frame-style building overlooking the Interstate 5 Expressway in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood. The building’s west and south sides reveal a different story. Two small terraced gardens flank the side street stairs into the church. In the side yard between the church and the house next door, owned by St. Andrew’s, are some old City of Seattle Green Cones for recycling food waste. Volunteers are transforming the house’s backyard from what had been an over-gown mess. Now, there is a terraced garden, a four-level composting system and some compost storage bins recently built by a fledgling Eagle Scout.
Last year, the gardens yielded about 600 pounds of food, most of which went into the parish’s own food ministries. These include a monthly community dinner known as Jubilee Supper and the Teen Feed Ministry whose participants supply a hot meal for homeless teens in a university-area church. Hoover acknowledges that not all congregations with gardening ministries keep the food they grow, instead donating it to food pantries, but St. Andrew’s wants to conserve resources.
“We don’t spend energy taking it off to another place and then going out and buying food for our own food ministry outreach,” he said.