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Bayside Baptist seeks help to nurture gardens

Maria Lockwood


A Superior congregation is preparing to nourish community members — body and soul — this summer.

Anyone can apply for one of Bayside Baptist’s community garden patches. Each spot includes free plants, a partner to grow the garden and the promise of a bountiful harvest. Church members installed the 10-patch organic garden last year, building it up from an open field of grass and dandelions.

“We want to build connections with the community, ultimately to share the love of Jesus,” said Mark Pavola, pastor. “We want to share the good news in a very practical, tangible, helpful way … a delicious way.”

The spot — bathed in full sunshine, daily watering and prayer — responded well last summer.

“It grew phenomenally,” said Cheri Boreen, garden coordinator. “We were so blessed by what was happening.”

Last year, only three gardeners stepped forward from the community. Undaunted, church members opened the gardens up to the public twice a week as a pick-your-own farmer’s market. They provided plant know-how, recipes and even brought fresh produce door to door in the Billings Park neighborhood.

The patches are available to all, both those with green thumbs and folks who have never gardened in their lives.

“We all learned different things from each other,” Boreen said.

Gardens used to be a staple, Pavola said. Now, it’s a cross-cultural activity.

Boreen said last year, some people who attended the free harvesting events weren’t even sure how to pick the produce.

Congregation members raised money and put in sweat equity to make the gardens a reality. Local businesses and individuals, including Dan’s Feed Bin, Missinne’s Nursery, Campbell Lumber and Mike Booker, stepped up to help, as well. It’s practical, helpful and offers healthy food. But the gardens can also be seen as a faith allegory.

“There are things you learn about God and his creation through gardening,” Pavola said. “It’s positive on a lot of levels.”

To date, four of the six available patches at Bayside Baptist were claimed. Congregation members are waiting for more partners to help tend the newly planted seedlings.

Each of the available plots includes tomatoes, beans, carrots, spinach, lettuce, peas, broccoli, cucumbers, onions and beets. There is an additional fruit patch with rhubarb and raspberries, an herb garden and two patches dedicated to squash, shared by all. Those who sign up for the gardens are expected to tend them about two times a week, and more often during the harvest. Applications are accepted through the end of June.

For information or an application, call 715-394-6002, stop by the church at 3915 N. 16th St. or go online at