As part of its mission to “renew our community and congregation with a fresh commitment to care for creation and one another in new ways,” the Lutheran Church of the Cross Creation Care Team has undertaken numerous projects since forming in 2008.
The team established forums between Sunday services related to “Thinking Green,” like local foods, composting, organic gardening, food preservation, solar energy, etc.
It sold stainless steel water bottles to encourage people to reduce single-use plastic water bottles and includes a “Green Congreg-ation Tip of the Week” in the church bulletin.
In 2009, team members began hosting “Sharing Markets” on Sunday mornings in the church narthex, encouraging everyone to bring their extra garden produce, flowers, jellies and baked goods. People may take whatever products they desire and leave a cash donation, which is given to the Lakes Area Food Shelf at the end of the summer.
Through this project the Nisswa church has been able to annually donate $700-$1,000 to the food shelf.
After learning about the health and economic benefits of growing and using fresh, local foods, the care team undertook building a community garden to provide gardening space for people of the community and congregation to grow fresh produce, foster a sense of community and provide a public gathering place for gardening and garden related events.
After receiving a grant from the State Health Improvement Program (SHIP) in August 2010, the care team began construction of the 70- by 100-foot garden with a 10-foot fence and 56 4- by 8-foot raised beds with easily accessible water within the garden for all plots.
The garden is available to people of all ages and incomes. The annual fee for a plot is $20.
Next, the care team had a local landscape designer create a comprehensive plan for the area surrounding the garden to beautify and enhance it.
The first phase of that comprehensive plan was recently completed with a flagstone path and patio with a cedar pergola surrounded by plantings. More plans are in the works, including an extended sidewalk, a labyrinth area for meditation and reflection, and solar panels outside the community garden to help reduce electricity costs at the church.