Jesus notes in the biblical parable that the mustard seed is the smallest of those planted in the field, but when it grows it becomes “the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
From the smallest things often grow things of enormous grandeur.
First Baptist Church of Corbin held a special dedication ceremony Sunday for what members are calling it’s “Mustard Seed” community garden — a series of 12 raised beds located on an empty lot across from the church next to the Corbin Creekwalk.
“Like in the parable, we wanted to see something that starts very small and, through faith and commitment, hope that it will grow in size and in its ability to feed some of our local families,” said Austin Carty, lead pastor at First Baptist Church.
The first crop from the garden is currently being harvested. The beds, ranging in depth from six to 18 inches, are currently packed full of kale, radishes, sugar peas, lettuce, turnips and spinach.
Carty said he had the idea for the community garden after he first became pastor of the church last June and moved to Corbin. He said the area where the garden is located needed to be utilized, and he thought it would be a good way to beautify the creekwalk, as well as provide a ministry to some families in Corbin.
A committee was formed. The plan for the garden was formed. And through hard work and faith, it’s now producing healthy food. Just this past week, 13 and one-quarter pounds of kale was harvested from the beds.
Carty said the church plans to partner with three local families to provide them with boxes of food from the garden each week. In return, they must agree to spend a few hours a month helping tend the garden, and also attend training sessions where they learn how to prepare the food to make it tastier.
Carty said the church could have provided less food to more people, but decided to eschew that approach.
“We want to have a deep impact with a smaller number of families,” he said. “The approach we are taking here is not quantitative, but qualitative.”
Paul Dengle, the Horticulture Extension Agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service office in Whitley County, praised the church’s efforts on the garden.
“I get a lot of calls to my office … people have this great idea to do a community garden, but nothing ever comes of it,” Dengle said. “But First Baptist has really stepped up. I could not have had a better group to work with.”
Dengle said he had trouble finding information regarding the optimal soil depth for grown vegetables in raised beds on a concrete surface, so the Mustard Seed Community Garden also serves as an experiment of sorts. The vegetables planted are being monitored and measured to see how well they grow in different soil depths, as well as how they are positioned in the raised beds. Dengle said he plans to report the results of his research for publication.
Carty said the decision to allow the garden to sit in the open along the creekwalk makes it more aesthetically pleasing and inviting to the public, as well as beautifying the popular walking path.
“We are realists and we understand that you can’t control what people will do, but we really did not want to put restrictions around the garden,” Carty said.
“We think fences communicate something. They communicate, ‘this is ours, stay away,’” Carty added. “There are places where fences are absolutely necessary … We don’t think church is one of those places. I don’t think a church ought to communicate ‘this is ours, stay away.’”
Strategically placed tables have been placed in the garden for people to sit, relax and enjoy. Carty said the church plans to plant and harvest it all summer long and into the fall with different vegetables.
The plan is to expand it in the future by adding more raised beds.