Thanks to MN Conference UCC COMMAntary writers for sharing this Great Idea!

I am unable to create a link to this article, so will share it verbatim:

Pollinators of the Spirit: St John’s United Church of Christ in Norwood Young America

On any Wednesday afternoon during the summer, if you happen by the parking lot of St John’s United Church of Christ in Norwood Young America, you will find a community of people surrounded by a bounty of locally grown food and homemade goods at the Bongards Market.

The church, located in the heart of rural Carver County, has hosted this seasonal farmers market for ten years in conjunction with Bongards, [a] premium cheese company adjacent to the church. The market’s mission is to build community, and through service from the body of the church with surrounding community members, strive to provide wholesome, sustainable, and nutritious food sources.

Church member Vicki Moteelall leads a small group of volunteers to make this weekly event happen, […along with a set-up team, clean-up crew, and a web and promotion guru].

Rev. Scott Siefert, who recently joined the church as its new pastor, says, “It’s a new way of being church, of providing an extravagant welcome.”

Moteelall says the market attracts 200-300 people each week. In addition to providing an oppportunity for small, local businesses and farmers to provide their goods and foods, the market also sponsors two programs that provide children and seniors ages 65+ with free produce throughout the season as well as a $2 coupon for children to spend at the market. This year, food trucks will be added to the festivities.

“We know this market connects our church with folks who may never step foot into the actual walls of the church,” says Moteelall. “But we want them to have a great experience and connection in our parking lot. It’s about meeting people where they’re at.”

Siefert agrees, “I kind of look at this as being a way for us to go out and be in community, to walk our talk. Like pollinators of the Spirit!”

Learn more here.

I have always wanted to participate in a congregation that shared something along these lines, and which added cooking and preserving classes along with the produce sales. It seems like a great gift to the community to empower the great cooks of our congregation (or broader community) to share excellent, easy recipes for produce as it is in season, making what’s at the market all the more interesting.

It would also be great to teach people how best to can, freeze, or dry seasonal produce to help folks keep garden-fresh produce available into colder months. What a wonderful gift for those who may not have regular access to garden veggies; a superb community-builder; and putting food on tables!!

If you wanted to take this a whole different direction, you might want to know How to Turn Your Yard into an Ecological Oasis – then teach others how to do the same; learn what plants can be cut for live bouquets, dried for longer-lasting installments, or used for tea!

After pollinating, enjoy the fruits of the spirit!