The Heights congregation wants to cultivate community at the 1.1-acre plot of land it bought to develop and open to the public.
“It’s something the Lord put on our hearts, about how you create community, how you serve community, how you make space for community,” said the Rev. Allen Hodges. “And food is a big part of that.”
The garden, called The Garden, is located across the street from Independent Elementary School. It’s less than a mile from where the congregation meets.
Church members have worked on the site for the past three years. This is the first time Billings Vineyard has made a push to recruit gardeners from the community to work on the 255 8-by-14-foot plots.
“We’ve had six brand new gardeners in the last two weeks, and there are 14 altogether,” Hodges said, sitting inside the cafe at the church he and his family founded in 2005.
Last summer, the focus at The Garden was on completing several major construction projects. That included building a pavilion, planting a vineyard, constructing an irrigation system and completing a barn with a walk-in freezer.
A concrete table in the pavilion, which is situated at the center of The Garden, seats 20 people, with a large grill nearby. The idea is to provide a gathering space.
“We encourage people, if you’re out there gardening, bring something to grill for dinner,” Hodges said. “Pull something out of your garden plot and maybe others will join you.”
The Garden is surrounded by a deer…