Corvallis First United Methodist Church

Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.

1165 NW Monroe
Corvallis, Oregon 97330
(541) 752-2491

Breathing New Life into a Neglected Plot of Land

Jun 28 2012

A series of construction projects over the past few years had left some awkward leftover spaces on the church property. Most found new life in one way or another--some had been landscaped by a church member who is an avid gardener, another had been made into a combination labyrinth and herb garden. But there was still a sad, neglected corner near the rear church parking lot, home only to a dumpster and spotty crop of weeds.

Seeing an opportunity to care for creation, the Natural Step committee brought together members from three other UMC committees, plus a Master Gardener from the congregation and had a brainstorming session. Some initially favored a vegetable garden, but this particular site was a tricky one - it had only a few inches of poor quality soil, and was shaded by a three-story building most of the day. Another group member suggested - since the site couldn't support much that was living - to go with something non-living: A rock garden. Done! This coincided with another ongoing project, the design, planning, and construction of a church columbarium. The rock garden could be designed to provide a gateway to this new church showpiece.

But how to free up the space, still home to the dumpster? A Natural Step committee member had the idea of using several roll carts in lieu of a dumpster to collect garbage, removing the need to park it on the weedy vacant space, and allowing garbage to be kept in a more convenient part of the grounds. Problem solved.

Lastly, the Natural Step committee was still able to get its garden - a church trustee suggested using a patch of lawn on the edge of the parking lot, much closer to the street and in full sun. Not only will it provide church members the opportunity to garden, but it will provide street-side landscaping for the community.

By the end of the its first meeting, the cross-committee team had overcome several obstacles and figured out the concept and beginnings of an implementation plan for improving the vacant space by using its collective brainpower and creativity. Not only had they beautified spaces around the church, but had also improved our little corner of Corvallis.