One great joy of homemaking is spending time in the garden. Whether you plant a small herb garden on your patio, or have a sprawling vegetable garden on a hobby farm, gardening is an activity that is peaceful and fruitful. The benefits of gardening are well known.
Did you know there is another benefit to gardening that is often overlooked? Your garden can be an amazing way to serve others and create a ministry.
How Others Have Served Us Through Gardening
We have a neighbor who is well known for his generosity, especially when sharing the bounty from their garden. This neighbor intentionally plants extra vegetables so they can give to others. My family has personally experienced the joy of receiving fresh grown vegetables all summer long, and decorative corn and gourds in the fall from our sweet neighbor.
Another couple who we are friends with share the apples from their trees for our family to enjoy. This year, they even picked the apples, drove them to our home, which is over 30 minutes away, and let us borrow their apple juicer to make cider! I was overwhelmed by their generosity and our whole family was blessed by their willingness to serve.
I have many stories like these of people reaching out to share and serve others with the extra they have. And I am sure you can think of someone who has blessed you through extra garden produce, a homemade meal or even a bouquet of hand-picked flowers.
These are all a ministry. An intentional way they serve others. Sometimes we think ministry and giving, especially food, is reserved for those who are desperately poor, homeless, and impoverished. But serving others can and should be part of our everyday lives and bless all around us. Many gardeners share the excess produce from their gardens every year. But how can we all be intentional in garden ministry?
5 Ways You Use Your Garden as a Ministry
Plant more than you will personally use.
If you have the garden space, plan to plant a few more plants than your family will need. Set aside the extra produce to give away to family, friends, neighbors and anyone who would be blessed by your act of kindness.
Preserve garden produce to give away.
Many people would be overjoyed to receive a preserved jar of tomatoes, jam, pie filling, and more. While it is a little more work, this is a great option because the recipient can save it to use when they need.
For example, every year for Christmas, one of my girls’ Sunday School teachers gives the girls a jar of her homemade grape jelly. The girls get so excited you would think we received a jar of gold! That gift of her homegrown, homemade jelly is precious to our girls because it is a gift made just for them.
Find a local charity or organization to serve.
Maybe all your family and friends have expansive gardens and you don’t know who to serve? Try contacting local organizations. They may have ideas on ways to serve a non-profit in your area. Be creative in thinking of people to serve. We all need food to survive, and fresh produce is expensive, but so important for our health! Who in your community may not have access to fresh food?
Give all year long with homemade meals.
Preserve extra to keep on hand and use to make meals for new moms, families who have medical issues or have experienced loss, new neighbors, or simply to bless a family. It can be as simple as a jar of homemade jam and bread, or a full meal.
If you are great at canning, freezing, or dehydrating foods, this one is for you. Instead of giving from your garden during the summer months only, you can give all year round. Join a local group that serves meals to new moms or senior citizens that are housebound. Reach out to people who have experienced a loss, or have a crazy, stressful life event. Most people are happy to receive a home cooked meal. It saves them the work of preparing a meal and shows them you care.
Be Creative! Don’t forget about flowers and herbs, and other ways to give.
We usually think of vegetables and home gardens, but you can have a garden ministry even if you live in the city. Do you grow a few pots of beautiful flowers or herbs? Give away a bouquet every few weeks. Maybe you are an expert at seed saving. Find a young family to share seeds with and teach them how to start their own garden.
If you don’t have a garden, but know how to take care of plants, find someone who wants to learn and teach them your skills. Education is a powerful gift. Or lastly, give of your labor and help another person with their garden. Planting, weeding and harvesting can be hard work, and offering to help someone is a big blessing!
Ministry is about serving others, often for a higher purpose. No matter how big or small your ministry, always make sure it aligns with your personal values. Allow the ministry to be a gift. You will find that even though you are the one giving, you will often receive a wonderful gift in return. The gift of joy that can only come through giving.
This year, I challenge you to be intentional in making your garden a ministry to serve others.
What is one way you can have a garden ministry this year?