“That has been his lifeblood for this church for so many years,” said Ron Gullickson, chairman of the church board.
The program has since taken off. Although originally intended as a place where devotees could grow produce, it is now open to the wider community. Many of the gardeners come from a nearby trailer complex, where it would otherwise be difficult to find plots of fertile land. Others, like Sotelo and Rivera, came from Iglesia De Dios De La Profecia, the Spanish-speaking church across the street.
Most years, the gardeners planned a harvest festival in September, a large community picnic that draws worshipers from both churches. This year, with COVID-19 limiting large gatherings, they don’t know what that harvest celebration might look like.
But that doesn’t stop them from getting to work now. Rows and rows of hot peppers, onions, beets, green onions, strawberries, potatoes, tomatillos, black corn, tomatoes, basil and garlic crossed the land on Saturday.
Just growing, and growing with each other, is a force for good in normal times. But especially right now, gardening together offers a sense of togetherness that is becoming harder and harder to find.