The Antioch Genesis Community Garden is a ministry of the Antioch Baptist Church created to serve the nutritional and health needs of the congregation and community. The name of the garden serves to encourage all people to return to eating produce straight from the ground as was the case in the garden of Eden in the book of Genesis, and to care for one another. Antioch secured a grant from the Big Garden that covered the initial cost of supplies, soil, seeds, and seedling and on May 14, 2022, approximately ten members showed up to build five garden beds and two flower beds on the church’s property with goals of 1) encouraging home gardening, 2) addressing food insecurities in the membership and beyond, and 3)addressing food sovereignty and food justice.
A small but dedicated group of people from the church and neighborhood cared for the garden. The crops included, kale, collard greens, eggplant, a variety of peppers and tomatoes, squash, zucchini, melons, a variety of herbs, okra, green beans, peas, and a variety of pollinating plants. Church members walked past the garden every Sunday on their way to and from worship services, people from the neighborhood drove past the garden every day driving to and from work, and approximately 20-30 people received personalized tours of the garden. Home gardeners from the membership and community viewed social media posts and provided great encouragement. Additionally, a handful of people expressed an interest in starting a garden for the first time. Antioch distributed weekly harvests to the members after Sunday services and they were encouraged to take the food as needed for themselves and to share with others in their circle that desired and/or needed fresh food.
Antioch formed new partnerships and developed its existing partnerships to encourage the work. The Black Church Food Security Network partnership provided essential support and $500 of “seed” money to encourage the work. Additionally, the organization will also help connect the garden to black farmers. The Bobby Byars Foundation partnership provided reusable bags, youth volunteers that helped prepare the garden for winter, and pledged ongoing volunteer and financial support. Antioch also sought support from the local Nebraska Extension Office and continued support from the Big Garden. Antioch also re activated its community development corporation “Antioch CDC” to create an organizational structure and financial umbrella for the garden and future community development initiatives.
The garden produced a total of 150 pounds of produce in its first year. The Big Garden agreed to continue its support by building a compost bin, supplying two more garden beds and one elderberry tree. Future plans include 1) a watering system, 2) a major landscaping renovation to provide space and outdoor furnishing to encourage community gatherings and spiritual development and 3) funding a part time project manager position to manage the garden.