Jane Cisluycis works at the UP Episcopal Diocesan office as the Operations Coordinator. About 4 years ago, she had a great idea! She was outdoors working on the driveway, and decided that the sunny area seemed like a good gardening spot.
So she shook out the gravel and donated a truck full of manure. First she planted tomatoes. One thing led to another, and now there is very little grass. The diocese is now growing tomatoes, zucchinis, squash, herbs, beans, and edamame. This year they added broccoli rabe and okra. In the past they have also grown corn, cabbage, and mammoth sunflowers. For the last 3 years, they’ve also been growing hops.
The garden was inspired by Jim Kelsey, a former bishop who died in 2007 in a car crash. The garden gave new life in a time of depression for the whole diocese.
Jane harvests and gives away all the produce. She also sets up a table.
There is a low income housing tower a couple of blocks down. The residents walk by and Jane gets to talk to them—the garden creates the opportunity. She shares her grandfather’s experience on a farm and talks about how to grow vegetables. People share their stories as they walk by, and they say they enjoy walking by and seeing it all grow.
Jane loves to engage neighbors. A young man said it made him happy and he was so glad they were doing this. Her goal is to recruit permanent helpers.
Michigan has a short growing season, so it was with a lot of optimism that she planted cantaloupe this year. Corn was a great surprise too. The garden also hosts a variety of flowers.
Jane says that the experience has changed her. She’s learned to trust herself and not sweat the small stuff. She appreciates the joy of watching things climb and grow. She has learned to trust the people in the area, too.
Jane hopes that the garden will one day become a community project.