Feeding Our Soul Through a Community Garden

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March 9, 2023

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis County. 

Feeding Our Soul Through a Community Garden

March 8, 2023 Podcast:

Audio file

Moderators Shannon Jones and Jacki Hecht interviewed Reverend Ray Hendricks, a pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church and Angela Bigham, a Certified Community Health Worker, Leader of the Health and Wellness Ministry at Rehoboth Baptist Church.

There is growing evidence that gardening offers numerous health benefits. Beyond producing nutritious, locally grown food, gardening combines physical activity with social interaction and exposure to nature and sunlight, all of which can help to lower stress and blood pressure and offer mental and emotional well-being. In Austin/Travis County, we have about 29 community gardens, including the St. John Faith Community Garden.

Pastor Hendricks had the idea to start the St. John Faith Community Garden because their own garden at Rehoboth Baptist Church was too small to meet the needs of the community. At St. John, they have access to a much larger area to expand their garden, with a vision of meeting the mental, physical, and spiritual needs of the community. For many, gardening can be a spiritual activity. It’s a way for us to connect with the earth and soil, nurture plants, and watch them grow. The combination of being out in nature, doing physical activity, tending to a garden, and connecting with others is a winning formula for boosting our overall well-being. It is also an opportunity to disconnect from technology and enjoy the natural world around us. The community garden is open to everyone and is located at the St. John Regular Baptist Association 7501 Blessing Ave Austin, TX 78752.

Many individuals help Ms. Bigham maintain the garden such as community volunteers, Girl Scouts, East Austin Black Gardeners, AMEN Nurses, and UT students. In addition to gardening activities, Angela organizes educational sessions in the garden. These include the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, mindful activities to ease stress, and ways to enhance spiritual connections with the earth. Organizations such as the Travis County Master Gardners Association and Fruitful Commons also provide workshops and growing tips to help participants create successful gardens at home. Ms. Bigham notes that these Mind, Body, Spirit classes and gardening workshops have helped to bring diverse communities together to promote health and wellness through the garden.

To learn more about participating in and donating to the St. John Faith Community Garden, contact Reverend Ray Hendricks, Angela Bigham at abigham1@hotmail.com, or visit the Rehoboth Baptist Church Facebook Page.

Community Garden Resources: 

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