Otsego Christian Academy’s preschool class helps Caroline Abbott plant greens and herbs for the community garden. (Photo by Elizabeth Abbott)

First Baptist Otsego launches community garden

Elizabeth Abbott, writer

First Baptist Church of Otsego is launching a community garden in Otsego this summer. The garden, called “Sowing Seeds of Hope,” will be in the front yard of the former St. Margaret Catholic Church on Court Street in Otsego.

The land was originally donated to Otsego Christian Academy of First Baptist Otsego. Otsego Christian Academy is closing this year after 35 years of Christian education. However, the community garden will “honor the intention of Christian education,” according to Paul Laborde, senior pastor of First Baptist.

Caroline Abbott, organizer of the community garden project, immediately imagined this new use for the land.

“It has never had industrial contamination,” she said, “It is pristine land.”

Laborde said, “I am excited that this great property can be put to immediate and purposeful use.”

The community garden offers plots to anyone in the Plainwell and Otsego area who wants to grow a garden but is unable to at their current location.

“We would also like to bless those who have never considered a garden because they do not know how,” Laborde said.

Up to 20 plots are available this first year, with plans to expand the project in future years. Participants can sign up through www.otsegocommunitygarden.com. Each group or individual that signs up will be assigned a plot in the community garden and must agree to abide by rules developed by the church.

The project’s literal groundbreaking will be May 31-June 1, when the plots will be plowed up and planting may begin. Experienced gardeners will be available every Saturday at the community garden to give advice and answer gardening questions.

Apart from giving people a place to connect to nature and grow vegetables, Abbott’s vision is to offer classes in gardening, cooking and preserving food.

She said the goal of “Sowing Seeds of Hope” is to help community members have a hope for the future by way of food security.

“It gives them a sense of purpose—ownership of something that they can control,” she said.

For Kate Amaezechi of Otsego, the community garden will be a good project for her family to work on together. “We have a large family so growing food will help with our food budget. As a family we would like to improve our eating habits and having nutritious food we grow ourselves will help in that goal,” she said.

Laborde said, the community garden will not only benefit the community but also will be a way for the church to connect with the community.

“It is another way to embed in our people the truth that we must look for ways to interact with, care for and love people outside of our church building,” he said.

Those who would like a garden plot or more information, or who would like to donate gardening supplies or seeds, may contact Caroline Abbott at scabbott@sbcglobal.net or visit the website.

Contact Elizabeth Abbott at (269) 673-5534.


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