A Garden of Faith

I can hardly wait.  The end of February is one of my very favorite times of the year–the air is still cool, but the afternoon warmth brings with it the promise of spring.  It’s when my students and I pull out the tired winter garden in the Land Lab at the RISE Institute and start fresh.

This year, we have a special focus for our spring planting that we hope all who visit the LCS campus will enjoy.  It’s especially exciting because it’s an idea initiated by our students through the STEM Forum, an organization of students interested in the sciences and in leadership.  STEM Forum leaders reach out into the community to invite experts to visit our campus for Lunch and Learn seminars.

This week, the Plant Science section of the STEM Forum has invited local horticulturalist John King (http://www.theledger.com/article/20120823/NEWS/120829739?p=1&tc=pg ) to educate students about Plants of the Bible.  He’ll be speaking on Thursday, February 26, at 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM in the RISE Institute.

Our middle and high school students will then work with Mr. King to design a Garden of Faith, which our younger elementary students will be invited to help implement , learn from, and to enjoy.  This project will help all of our students understand more about the plants of the Bible and enjoy a beautiful garden on our campus that is also meaningful.

Why is this important?  Three critical reasons:

  • Beauty matters.
  • God’s creation helps us learn more about His character.
  • Understanding more about the plants of Palestine, the Mediterranean and the ancient near East helps us have a clearer picture of the illustrations the Bible uses:

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20

How large is a mustard seed, exactly?

In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.” Zachariah 3:10

Why would one invite a neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree? What does that even mean? 

As Mr. King will share with our students, according to W. E. Shewell Cooper, the author of  Plants, Flowers and Herbs of the Bible, Genesis and Isaiah have the most agriculture and horticulture references. Mathew and Luke contain the most references in the New Testament.   There are over 130 plants referenced in the Bible.

Some that can be grown in our area include the following:

Fruits of the Bible

  • Fig
  • Olive
  • Palm (Date)
  • Pomegranate
  • Grapes
  • Melons

Vegetables & Herbs of the Bible

  • Cucumbers
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Lentils
  • Aloe
  • Beans
  • Sugar Cane
  • Coriander
  • Cummin
  • Dill
  • Gourd
  • Mint

Trees of the Bible

  • Acacia
  • Ash
  • Cedar
  • Mulberry
  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Sycamore
  • Willow

Plants of the Bible

  • Bull Rush (Papyrus)
  • Grass
  • Crown of Thorns

If you’d like to learn more about helping with this project at school or planting your own Garden of Faith, you are welcome to join us for Mr. King’s Lunch and Learn talk on Thursday, February 26 at 11:00 and 12:00.  Bring a brown bag lunch and please RSVP to Mrs. Canady at jcanady@lcsonline.org.

The largest Biblical Garden in the country is Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.   STEM Forum Plant Science Section Chair Julia Canady looks forward to visiting and taking notes when she is in Pittsburg competing in the International Science and Engineering Fair in May.