Hidden in Plain Sight

Churchyards and similar spaces serve many purposes, not all of which are compatible with a vegetable or herb-garden feel – rows of plants separated by hoed-earth; scattered implements, wheelbarrows, and the like; and cloches, stakes, tomato cages, or other protective elements. How many brides, for example, would be willing to process in to the sanctuary, pole beans on one side, corn on the other? How many churchyards require at least some lawn for children or youth groups to play games on?

To accommodate these uses, and all the others that congregations and similar organizations have for their yards, we advocate the design principle of “hidden in plain sight”, especially when space is at a premium.  That is,  we advocate that churches design the broad lines of their landscapes for sacred, social, educational or recreational uses first, working in the purpose of providing opportunities for gleaning during the later plant selection phase.  Additionally, during the plant selection phase, churches should carefully consider the aesthetics and functionality of the edibles they select, not just the nutritive aspects of the plants.

Returning to the example of the bride processing in on her wedding day, consider these questions: if the banquet host were seeking a garnish for the table, could he find something suitable on the congregation yard?  If the photographer was looking for a place to shoot pictures of the wedding party, could she find it in the same area as the garnish?  If the father of the bride had butterflies and needed a quiet place to rest and pray, could he find what he needed.  If the answer is “yes” to all three questions, the congregation has a gleanable landscape with its edibles “hidden in plain sight”.

About the Author

Our Executive Director, Stu Richardson, is a former teacher with 25 years in K-12 classrooms. Currently an MDiv. student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary preparing for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Stu has an M.Ed from Chapman University and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco. Outside of work, Stu is a beekeeper with 30 hives of his own set in an organic herb garden. He uses a Worksman Low-Gravity Platform Bike with Extra-Cycle Freetail and a 6 foot Bike-to-Work Trailer for most local errands.