Dartmouth church community garden serves to heal, unite in a pandemic time – SouthCoastToday.com


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DARTMOUTH — “I have such a passion for gardening, and I want to share it with everyone,” said Kayla Aguiar as she weeded a healthy batch of chives growing in a community garden she started. Aguiar said she began attending the Conquerors for Christ Church on Reed Road in Dartmouth about six months ago and she approached church officials about starting a community garden on the church grounds. Church officials gave her the nod and Aguiar wasted no time getting shovels into the soil. Studying sustainable agriculture at Bristol Community College in Fall River, Aguiar said she developed her skills and affection for organic gardening. The layout of the garden features a number of raised beds where tomatoes, peppers, corn, herbs, flowers and more are taking root and sprouting. Blueberry and raspberry bushes are still in their infancy, but promise to bring forth a sweet, delicious yield. Working at another section of the community garden on this day, Liz Souza from Better Community Living, is weeding tomato plants under the warm sun. Better Community Living is a not-for-profit agency that provides services to adults and children with autism and developmental disabilities as they strive for greater independence in their community. Souza has brought some helpers from the organization with her: Cody, Alex and John are lending a hand in the garden by weeding, watering plants and shoveling soil and compost. Pastor Kenneth Walsh said the idea of a community garden fits perfectly with the life cycle of the church. He explained the church is composed of older congregation members and is seeing an influx of younger members.  “Faith needs to be passed down,” Walshsaid adding there’s no better way for that to be expressed than with senior church members kneeling in the garden working beside the younger generation and teaching them that “with healthy soil — faith — anything will grow.” Aguiar had approached church member Paula Cabral and her husband, Steve, the church administrator, with the idea of the community garden, and both supported the idea. “With the year we’ve had,” Steve Cabral said referencing the COVID-19 lockdown, “everyone just wants to get outside.”  One of those who confessed her love of being outside was Beth Ferreira.  Wearing gardening attire, complete with gloves, and sunhat, Ferreira was busy shoveling compost into a wheelbarrow to roll to the back section of the garden where she was working.  “It’s a great use of the property,” Ferreira said. Aguiar said very little money was spent creating the community garden and that a lot of the plants, compost, soil, and wood for the raised beds were donated by members and businesses. The group has a Facebook page called Seeds for Hope CFC Dartmouth Community Garden. Among the vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit trees and other plantings is an artistic piece made from cedar and colored glass that was crafted by church member Chevelle Kelly. The long, narrow piece reaches toward the sky with squares of the colored glass laid out like miniature stained glass windows. The piece, Kelly explained, has spiritual meaning.  “The three nails at the base remind us of the work Christ did on the cross,” she said. The 20 pieces of earth tone colored glass represents a common number used in the Bible to show completeness after a trying situation.  A trying situation — like a pandemic. Once the produce from the garden starts coming in, Walsh said the logistics for parsing it out to church and community members is still being worked on.  In the meantime, anyone interested in volunteering at the garden can call the church at 508-999-1669. Standard-Times digital producer Linda Roy can be reached at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @LindaRoy_SCT. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times.
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