Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Community Gardens

Sioux Falls Seminary, via the Summit House, has been doing some amazing things within the Sioux Falls community by immersing themselves within the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood. This central area of Sioux Falls has a long community tradition, but because of its age, it has also become a place often characterized by its crime and run-down homes. The seminary, with help of local church and concerned residents have decided to live among, rather than to do "ministry" from outside. This incarnational mission puts people directly into the lives of their neighbors to counsel, help fix homes, and generally be among. What is striking about this attempt at reclamation of place is that it looks to the people themselves rather than just fixing up the aging homes (though that is a part of the project). By pursuing friendship, trust, service, community these seminary student residents at the Summit House are able to serve as they learn...a tangible application of theological ethics. The article reposted below comes from the SFSeminary website. Here is another from the Argus Leader.

"Seminary and Partners to Begin Urban Agriculture Garden Project

POSTED: APR 14, 2009

Sioux Falls Seminary is working together with five local organizations on a newly-formed urban agriculture initiative to aid in the revitalization of the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood. A Kick-Off Celebration for the initiative and its first project will be held on Wednesday, April 15 at 2:00 p.m. on the Lowell Math, Science, and Technology Elementary School playground (710 W. 18th Street). If wet or cool weather conditions occur, the event will be held in the school's gym.

The initiative is a unique partnership between Sioux Falls Seminary, the City of Sioux Falls, Lowell Math, Science and Technology Elementary School, Minnehaha Extension Service, Volunteers of America Dakotas/AmeriCorps VISTA, and the Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Outreach.

Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson and representatives from the other partner organizations will share brief comments at the Kick-Off Celebration. Also taking place will be the ceremonial planting of seeds for the first project--a garden for Lowell Elementary students and their families--and the announcement of the garden name, which was selected by school students and staff.

The partnership is committed to growing hope through empowering children and adults. The garden at Lowell Elementary School will become part of the school's curriculum. Students will soon transplant vegetables, fruits, and flowers--which they are already growing--into raised garden beds on the school's playground, and they will continue to care for the gardens throughout their summer break.

"The intent of this initiative is to cultivate an environment that will grow minds, hearts, relationships, leaders, and most importantly an attractive, sustainable Pettigrew Heights neighborhood," said the Rev. Tim Olsen, Director of Operations for Summit House at Sioux Falls Seminary and Urban Agriculture Task Force Chair.

Future projects will also focus on building a sense of community belonging and empowerment. They include training of garden mentors within Pettigrew Heights, teaching residents how to raise food in their backyards, and hosting neighborhood gatherings and festivals."