Garden beds inspire growth

Local community donates funds and times to provide guests with chance to grow vegetables, flowers

This summer, motorists, bikers and pedestrians that regularly pass by St. John’s Ministries Women’s Shelter and Wellspring may notice something new to the neighborhood: Three raised garden beds. On a once-empty street corner, flowers and vegetables are now growing and beautifying the street. Additionally, the garden beds provide opportunities for guests to learn the life skills of planting and sustaining a healthy garden.

This wonderful gift took a community effort.

Members of an area church donated funds for the materials. The assembly and installation were achieved through a service project of students from NEW Lutheran High School. Led and encouraged by the school’s football coach, Dick Hasseler, students worked side by side to improve their community and provide opportunities for others.

“It’s great to see these kids serving, doing something positive for our community,” Hasseler said. “They worked very hard at this and had fun.”

A week later, guests joined volunteers and staff to plant a variety of flowers and vegetables, all of which were donated by area businesses and volunteers. Among the dozen vegetables growing are lettuce, spinach, peas, green beans, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.

St. John’s Ministries and guests are reaping the benefits of the investment of materials and labor. The inspiration and effort have allowed vegetables and flowers to flourish. For Hasseler, the garden beds represent something deeper, more spiritual. It allows those served by St. John’s Ministries to be seen and understood and to be cared for, especially by the youth in our community.

“Unless you are downtown, you don’t really see many homeless people. It would be easy to assume they do not exist,” he said. “But they are here, and they need our help. I want to make this a yearly event for our students.”

It has been said that a healthy garden is a perfect metaphor for a healthy life.

Like a seed in fertile soil, life requires a healthy foundation to begin growing. Each year gardeners learn and try new methods to yield better results. As we grow, we also need to learn and adapt. Like us, garden plants require regular water, plenty of sunshine and protection from harsh weather and dangerous elements. And just like bad influences or choices we must limit, plants need to be pruned and weeds pulled from gardens to allow for better growth.

Reflecting on this metaphor, Hasseler commented that plants can grow in about anything, dirt, sand, clay, or rocks.

“But it is a lot easier to grow in good dirt,” he said.

If you would like to learn more about Service Group opportunities at St. John’s Ministries, please contact Brooke Graham at

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