Community Garden Update: Sept. 8, 2016

Last night, the garden was vandalized…

We have many happy memories of the 2016 garden:  its flowers and vegetables; the ways it showed us the growth of seeds into incredible mature plants with just air, water, soil, sunlight and care; the ways it brought the church people, the NorthStar volunteers, and the community together.

We will start planning our next steps.

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Community Garden Update: August 29, 2016–Praying Mantis

In the garden on this calm cool morning, sitting atop the tomato plant was a beautiful praying mantis.


Here is more on this lovely insect.

“The Praying Mantis is one of the most loved of the insect world to humans and one of the most feared to other insects.

It is extremely beneficial to gardens and humans because of its penchant for eating the things that bug us. They will eat mites, aphids and most other insects that are within the grasp of their front legs.

The praying mantis is related to grasshoppers and crickets, belonging to a family of insects called orthoptera.  They have, like their cousin the grasshopper, mouths which have parts designed to chew and very distinct wings.”

“Animal Symbolism: Meaning of the Praying Mantis

The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we’ve flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we’ve created.

After observing this creature for any length of time you can see why the symbolism of the praying mantis deals with stillness and patience. The mantis takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace.

These traits have lead the mantis to be a symbol of meditation and contemplation. In fact, in China, the mantis has long been honored for her mindful movements. The mantis never makes a move unless she is 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. This is a message to us to contemplate and be sure our minds and souls all agree together about the choices we are making in our lives.

Overwhelmingly in most cultures the mantis is a symbol of stillness. As such, she is an ambassador from the animal kingdom giving testimony to the benefits of meditation, and calming our minds.

An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quite and reach a place of calm. It may also a sign for you to be more mindful of the choices you are making and confirm that these choices are congruent.”


Community Garden Update: August 18, 2016

Our plants are growing amazingly well.  View some of the “firsts,” below:  First sunflower,  first pumpkin, first cucumber, first herbs, first salad….


Note Franklin Square Community’s colorful sunflower mural in far background.



By August 16, the sunflowers were taller than our volunteers! Quite an accomplishment!

Camp Imagination Update: August 5, 2016–Day 5

  1. Day 5:  Field Trip to Visionary Arts Museum and Grand Art Opening

We went by bus to the Visionary Arts Museum early on Friday morning.  The campers created Hope Chests, in which they placed their hopes on slips of paper.  40


“A good future” is the hope

The campers were thrilled to actively explore The Visionary Arts Museum with all its treasures.

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A picnic lunch followed on the top of Federal Hill.  During the visit and lunch, volunteers were busy transforming the undercroft of the church into an art gallery.

After time for a rest back at camp, the Grand Art Opening began at 4:30.  Children greeted their guests and walked them through the amazing display of their work created over the week of Camp Imagination.



One of our campers reading Something Beautiful to her little brother at the Grand Art Opening


Our THANKS to our Director, Amanda Talbot, our Artistic Director and Consultant, Kathy Gardner, and our leader, Father Van Gardner









Campers pictured with half of our volunteers.  Note the saying from the Talmud: “Call them not your children. Call them your builders.”



Camp Imagination Update: August 4, 2016–Day 4

Day 4:  August 4, 2016—The World Changes

When we arrived, the entrance to the undercroft had been changed!  The fence weavings that we completed on Day 3, were hanging at the entrance declaring our theme:  CHANGE


On Day 4, the theme, The World Changes, was illustrated by reading “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.  Message:  “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

Ms. Kathy demonstrated how to paint clay flower pots and the campers painted them in preparation for planting a philodendron to take home and care for.


After lunch we learned how to make large and small truffula trees from “The Lorax.”   We read “Good People Everywhere,” and made tags for our trees with messages about the good people in our lives, our communities, and our world.  These were gifts to be handed out to our families and guests at the Art Opening on Day 5.


Camp Imagination Update: August 2, 2016–Day 2

Day 2:  People Change

We began the day with Team Building activities including introductions with the “Wiggle, Wiggle” song and promenade:


Developing the Day 2 theme, People Change, we discussed positive and negative feelings and emotions and how emotions change.  We read books illustrating how feelings change, including “Mean Jean, the Recess Queen.”  After lunch, Father Van read, “How Full is Your Bucket?” and discussed nurturing positive feelings.  We all chose a positive emotion that we would like to nurture in ourselves and we called it out as we flung balloons filled with paint at a picture on the barn wall.  Stay tuned to see what happens to this tree.



Camp Imagination has been very fortunate to have the help of partner parishes:  St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Woodlawn is providing breakfast and daily afternoon snacks.  Parishioners (seen below) from The Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal in Ruxton come daily to provide a healthy lunch:

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Community Garden Update: August 1, 2016

What a difference a few weeks makes!  Warm hot weather and our church youth carefully attending to watering has enabled our plants to develop nicely.  Just compare these pictures to the early ones–remarkable!  How can little seeds do that?? Its like a miracle!


Current view of the garden


Corn growing up out of its box


Corn developing “silk”


Hot peppers almost ready for cooking


Two of our young watermelons being displayed with loving care.  How cute!


Third watermelon with yellow “belly”


On a “garden tour” of the neighborhood, one of our gardeners points out a rain barrel system that he envisions for our garden for the good of the plants and the planet


Community Garden Update: July 19, 2016

The Community Garden is thriving!  We had a peach harvest last week and this week we have corn, beans, sunflowers, tomatoes, etc., etc., all growing fast.  We installed trellises last weekend so that the watermelon and squash would have space to grow without  choking other plants.  Hot weather will work in our favor.  Stop by and see the progress!  07162016_group_s

Celebrating the peach harvest are our North Star volunteers, North Star staff, and one youth volunteer.







Community Garden in Partnership with North Star Special Services, Inc. and Updates to July 1

Update:  June 25, 2016–July 1, 2016


Church youth join in planting their own box

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Update:  June 16, 2016–June 22, 2016

Completed tires

Completed tires ready to grow


Almost all the planing is completed in the boxes


Our North Star Coordinator showing off a not-quite-ripe peach


Ms. Bertina’s flowers get installed in the center front


Update:  June 7, 2016–June 14, 2014

Completed box with soil, ready for planting

4×4 beds get new compost/vermiculite/peat moss

4×4 beds are now official Square Foot Gardens. Sunflowers planted in the center box



Community Garden in Partnership with North Star Special Services, Inc.

Van Brooks of SAFE Alternative Foundation for Education (SAFE) approached St. Luke’s to see if we might offer volunteer or other opportunities to individuals with disabilities from North Star Special Services, Inc.  We readily accepted the offer and St. Luke’s is now partnering with volunteers and their helpful staff members.  Work began on May 31, 2016 with eight enthusiastic volunteers who will come twice each week to assist in beautification of the church grounds and adjacent gardens. The volunteers will routinely clean trash from the church yard.  Additionally, this summer we will plant flowers and vegetables in the tires and in the nine 4’x4′ garden plots in the vacant lot next to the church.  We’ll try to follow the model of Square Foot Gardening and see how it works.

Follow our progress on this page. Or join us, stop by, or Adopt-a-Plot.

May 31–June 2, 2016

Vacant lot south of the church

Initial cleanup of growth in the yards


Successful cleaning of brush and trash in yards

Tires awaiting planting

4×4 beds after weeding before soil replaced