Growing our Community: A Look into Peace Lutheran’s Gardens

“Here [we] have more” – Martha, a Peace Lutheran community gardener, shared as she walked throughout her garden plots. 

Since 2017, Peace Lutheran Church has hosted one of the Food for Others affiliated gardens through a local nonprofit Food Uniting Neighbors (FUN). The gardens are filled with vibrant leafy greens, burrowed beets, and plump tomatoes. It was the first of Food for Other’s community gardens. 

The gardens at Peace Lutheran Church precede the involvement of Food for Others. Originally the gardens were run by volunteers. The food grown was harvested and donated to a local food bank. Later on, Peace Lutheran chose to rent out the plots – donating the monetary proceeds to local food banks. Then in 2017, Food for Others approached Peace Lutheran Church and asked to get involved – becoming the present-day community gardens. 

In 2020, FUN took over the management of the Peace Lutheran Gardens. Renee, co-founder of FUN, explained Peace Lutheran supplies the land and water while Food for Others provides monetary support – creating a true community-run garden.  

The garden is currently home to 9+ gardeners. To qualify for a garden plot, gardeners must have school-aged children and they must qualify for free-reduced lunches in Fairfax County. Martha, a community gardener and parishioner at Peace Lutheran, explained the harvest seasons, the planning required for crops, and the produce currently being grown. She said, “we are enjoying working in the gardens and it helps bring fresh food and organic produce to our tables – sometimes, we even have enough to share with other people too.” FUN donates any excess produce to local food banks, a practice that has continued since the original founding of the gardens. 

The work of Peace Lutheran Church extends beyond hosting these community gardens. Sue, a long-time member of the congregation, spoke of the ways Peace is helping their community – including supporting asylum seekers in Northern Virginia. 

In October 2021, Peace Lutheran Church began their partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) and set aside a wing of the church to create a temporary space to help resettle Afghan refugees. Peace directly helped resettle over 1,400 people through this effort. Per their website, LIRS has now moved to phase two of this initiative – focusing on long-term support. Peace has now opened their office doors to REACT DC – an organization supporting Afghan refugees through the asylum application process.   

In addition to their community gardens and refugee resettlement initiatives, Peace Lutheran Church recently received the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions’ Sustainability Champion Award for their community gardens and their recent addition of solar panels – providing the church with climate-friendly energy.  

Food for Others is proud to be a part of such a supportive and diverse community – helping support organizations like FUN and Peace Lutheran Church. By providing grassroots support to our neighbors, we are better able to know our community’s needs and fulfill the mission of food for others – feeding families and nourishing lives.  

“We have community – we make friendships. We enjoy Peace Lutheran.” – Martha