How a Community Garden Feeds Hungry Families and Hearts
By Amanda DeWitt
The earth is dry and cracked. When our local team members arrived in the Mutare district of Zimbabwe, they immediately noticed how parched the city was — both physically and spiritually.
As with so many countries around the world, drought, failed crops, and malnutrition have claimed lives and crippled entire communities in Zimbabwe. In the Mutare district, farming families struggle to survive due to the lack of reliable irrigation. They were only able to grow crops a few months out of the year.
For the past four years our in-country partner worked to build relationships with the people of Mutare and establish a church. With no way to meet their physical needs, it became very difficult to tangibly express the kindness of Jesus to the community.
The situation began to change last fall when Unto™ team members and volunteers, along with in-country partners, helped plant a community garden at the local school. As part of the students’ education, they learn agricultural techniques. A live garden allows them to learn not only theory, but receive practical training that will serve them well in the future.
Over the course of five days the community came together to help plant the garden. As irrigation drip lines were installed, the ground softened and seeds were planted. Hearts softened too.
By the end of the week the school’s headmaster and 20 students responded to the eternal hope of Jesus. A new local church now meets at the school building, making it easy for the children and their families to attend church. Recently a local chief’s wife accepted the hope of Jesus, and her husband promised to come to church too.
New life is sprouting everywhere as the community garden opens doors for feeding hungry families and hungry hearts.
The Makings of a Community Garden
Team members from Unto surveyed the dry, barren ground where the garden would be planted. Along with community residents they spent the day prepping the site — digging postholes using rudimentary hand tools. Water was carried from a well in the village and poured into the holes to soak overnight.
The next morning large tree limbs were collected from the garden area. Some of the parents dug postholes and helped secure the tree limbs into the holes for fence posts.
Students, parents, and villagers worked into the night to complete the holes and finish the garden fence! The rest of the day was spent setting up the bucket drip-irrigation system and digging trenches for planting seeds.
The students planted 2,000 seedlings of vegetables — tomatoes, cabbage, and greens. They also carried in water from the village well, and the irrigation buckets were filled. The garden was finished!
An official dedication ceremony was held with speeches from community leaders and special music by the students. Our in-country partner also talked with the students about good study habits and shared about the eternal hope of Jesus. Twenty students responded to his message.
Published April 4, 2019
Amanda is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Gift for Leadership, Kindred Spirit, and Christianity Today publications. She holds a M.A. in Media and Communication from Dallas Theological Seminary.