Anathoth Garden is Helping Communities Heal

Anathoth Garden is Helping Communities Heal

Anathoth Garden began in 2004 as a way for neighbors to come together after a shopkeeper in their community was murdered. A ministry of Cedar Grove United Methodist Church near Hillsborough, N.C., the project has become a national model for community gardening.

“I’m not sure there’s much of anything we don’t grow,” says Kate Forer, the garden’s director. “We have blueberries, peas, carrots, turnips, radishes, lettuce, collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, herbs, basil, sage, watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes and onions. There are beehives, too – and we recently added a few chickens.”

As Forer shows the garden to a visitor on a recent winter morning, it looks frozen in time. Withered plants droop with a dusting of frost. Fruit trees stand bare. The ground crunches underfoot.

But Forer describes how neighbors of all ages gather on long summer days to weed, harvest and share in potlucks. There’s a playhouse for children; a pizza oven for adults. By sharing the work and bounty, the gardeners nourish their community’s spirit.

“It is all about the creation of community based on the deep love of God for us, and the grace to see Christ in one another,” says the Rev. Grace Hackney, Cedar Grove’s pastor. “We do that by building relationships with the earth, as well as with each other.”

In 2009, The Duke Endowment gave Cedar Grove United Methodist Church a $30,000 grant to plan for ways to keep the four-acre garden flourishing. By developing new donor sources and creating a good case for why people should contribute, garden organizers will be able to look ahead at Anathoth’s next decade.

“With our quick growth and rapid-fire requests for training sessions and seminars – not to mention the large amounts of food we have grown and distributed – we left behind the work of financial sustainability,” Hackney says. “We now see that while we did an excellent job of growing and planting and building infrastructure, we did a poor job in building a database, or a base of financial contributors that would carry the work of Anathoth into the future.”

The grant will help Anathoth stay strong, Hackney says, and “continue the work God has called us to.”

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Robert R. Webb III
Director of Rural Church


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  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

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  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities

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