Almost three years ago, Cody Curtis, assistant residence director for the men’s quads, and his wife Melody, assistant director of the community music center, decided to invest in the Union garden to create a space that built community and brought glory to God.
The garden, located next to Luther Hall, is a place for people to go on Union’s campus and enjoy what interests them. Cody said some people come for solitude, others bring hammocks and some students have picnics.
One way the garden promotes community is through the donation of some of the garden’s harvest to ComeUnity Café. Cari Phillips, Union alumna, works at the café and had the original vision for the garden.
The Curtises said they want to make working in the garden an enjoyable, accessible option for interested students.
“We want to reignite students and get them involved in the garden,” Cody said. “The hardest part is that during the summer is when the most work is required but when most students are gone.”
Abby Norton, junior athletic training major, supervised the garden last summer while the Curtises were away.
“I learned a lot while I labored under the hot sun and worked with my hands,” Norton said. “I felt a connection with God on those days that helped me get through a hard summer.”
According to Norton, she wants people to grow through the hard work and enjoy the results of healthy food. One day, she hopes food grown in the garden will be used in the Brewer Dining Hall.
The Curtises believe gardens also provide a unique environment to commune with God through enjoying creation. They also see it as a tool to share the gospel.
“We find so many parables in scripture about seeds and soil, our hearts and how we grow,” said Melody. “There’s just so much to talk about with getting your hands dirty, and it creates conversation.”
On April 18, Youth Town, a non-profit organization, visited the garden. Melody said they were able to share the gospel with them through the paradigms in the garden.
“It’s just incredible to see how God has designed things, and I think ultimately a garden is a great way to give glory to the Lord,” said Melody.
The Curtises like to experiment with new things, while also maintaining a healthy organic garden through techniques like companion planning. In the spring of 2013 planting beds were constructed.
Currently in the garden there are pansies, swiss chard, pear and apple trees, purple romaine, broccoli, orange and yellow carrots, onions and herbs. There are also plant beds that are reserved for specific purposes: a salsa garden bed, a spaghetti garden and a mainly purple bed.
Students, faculty or staff who are interested in getting involved in the Union community garden can email Cody Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org.