By Naomi Giles
With climate change upon us, green spaces are becoming even more precious in our urban landscapes, and local churches have a role to play in partnership with their neighbourhoods.
NationsHeart Christian Community sits atop a hill on a prominent corner in the rapidly growing town centre of Belconnen in Canberra. The land around the church has for the most part been under-utilised by the church and community, in part due to its steep incline and the quality of the soil.
In recent years, we sensed a call from God to invest in this space and began looking for ways to improve it and open up access for the community.
We successfully joined the Floriade across Canberra community program, which provided bulbs to community groups to plant during the Covid-lockdowns. With donations from church members, we established a large display bed fronting one of the busiest through streets in the town centre.
The following year, with a grant through Churches of Christ NSW/ACT, we engaged a landscaper to develop a framework for further development of the hillsides around the building.
On one side, a path has been created through the established gum trees to allow access from the public footpath to the edge of our carpark. This path has increased the flow of foot, bike and scooter traffic through the church grounds, further increasing contact with our neighbourhood.
On the other hill, the landscaper constructed a series of swales, which allow rainfall and watering to be retained rather than running off. The soil in the swales provides a better planting foundation for future shrubs and trees.
At the bottom of the hill, the landscaper carved out some flatter areas where we hope to establish other garden beds as resources allow and community partnerships further develop.
Our church has become more aware of and active in caring for this space – with regular shared times of planting and tending, which create joy and connection, not just within the church but with others who come to lend a hand from time to time.
While large parts of the hillsides are still a blank canvas, there is so much potential. We continue to walk in His calling to grow and tend this space, recognising our own limitations are no barrier to His design for this community garden.
Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE