Jesus Center Farm Expansion

A couple months ago I wrote to you explaining the proposed partnership between our Parish and the Jesus Center Farm in expanding their ministry to a portion of our property. I briefly explained their current ministry thus:

The Jesus Center has long been a leader in Chico in providing services to the homeless and those in need. Among their innovative programs is the Jesus Center Farm, which provides internships for qualified people transitioning out of homelessness to learn agricultural and business skills. Under the direction of Jim Mathys, the Farm provides organic produce for the Jesus Center, local restaurants, and serve as a Community Sourced Agriculture (CSA) provider for members of the wider community. The Farm is on 16th Street and Normal on property provided by Marybeth Growden and her family.

Recently the Jesus Center Farm has been looking for opportunities to to expand and turned to St. John’s to see if we were open to a joint venture in serving our community together. This, I believe, dovetailed well into the visions of various people here to have some sort of a community garden project on our grounds.

As I expressed in my previous missive,

I believe the benefits of this potential partnership are several fold:

  • Participation as a parish in significant ministry in changing the lives of homeless people
  • Partnership with a vital Christian ministry in our community
  • Providing opportunity for the people and families to be involved in hands on ministry
  • Opportunity to connect with neighbors who also volunteer at the Farm

The Vestry in considering this project looked into a number of considerations and contingencies that this project presents, including water usage, irrigation, impact upon our neighbors, and Garden Tour parking. On the latter issue, we can report that a computer study of the area shows we can mitigate against a large scale loss of Garden Tour parking through removal of the old playground and using the space next to B Wing for additional spaces. We estimate that we can keep the loss to under twenty spaces; perhaps as few as ten or twelve.

In light of all these consideration it was the consensus of the Vestry to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Jesus Center to begin the planning for the farm extension. Within weeks of our approval, the Jesus Center board approved the MOU as well.

The project will begin slowly on a section of the property east of the church building and north of the gravel driveway. The thought is that the crops grown there will be those that will not need constant attention, such as berries or mandarins. They would still need attention from Jesus Center Farm staff and interns, parish volunteers, and volunteers from the larger community.

The Wardens, the members of the Vestry, and I are more than happy to talk to you about the project. (However, in fairness, if you ask me soil or water questions I will quickly refer you to JT Thompson!)

I believe that this venture has the fingerprints of God on it, and am excited for the potential to embody God’s Reign at St. John’s.

Grace and Peace,