Beautifying the Barrio: First community garden!

February 7th, 2011 by Matt Lindsey

Beautifying the Barrio: First community garden!

Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.

Luke 1.78-79

Gardens, life, color. These were some of the things we first wrote about on this blog. It didn’t seem like a revelation or anything back then, just a longing – like something was missing in our hearts and we simply wanted to fill that empty space. It was natural to think of planting flowers and trees, painting walls and picking up trash – anything to combat the suffocating torrent of garbage in the sweeping sea of gray.

I must admit that for a time I chose frustration and disappointment over hope and anticipation when I came up against the in-your-face sites and smells of Juarez, her lack of beauty and color. Now when we enter Juárez, when we are in Palo Chino, we sing songs of hope and peace over the city, we speak the beauty that already exists over Juarez, and our eyes rest much more quickly on that invisible-landscape, the hope in the unseen.

One major dream we have that is sprouting from the desert sand like a flower shooting up out of a time-lapse video is our first community garden. We were given a space in front of Carmen’s Cocina, an old sandbox on the elementary school property, to build a garden/greenhouse. Our friends from Yobel Market invested in this space, helped us rake out the garbage and back-fill the sandbox with fresh, rich garden soil from a local nursery.

We are just a month into 2011 and for the first time we are seeing real movement in the Juárez desert. Dreams are emerging from the sand – the seeds of our hearts’ dreams that we planted several years ago. Yobel Market has been key in jump-starting some of these stellar projects and it is difficult to fully express the gratitude in our hearts for their investment in Colonia Palo Chino.

Imagine arriving at the kitchen at six a.m. to prepare the days meal for 400 children. After putting on an apron and hairnet, you walk out the door and into the garden, pick 20 or 30 fresh, organic jalapenos and a grip of cilantro and head back into the kitchen to dice it all up and toss it into a fresh salsa…

Our aspirations for this garden extend far beyond growing vegetables and watching green life sprout miraculously from the dry ground. This garden is a pivot point that we believe will establish deep roots of education, opportunity and betterment in the community. Together young and old, through projects like the Cocina Garden, we will explore sustainable practice, cultivate creative dreaming in each others’ hearts which will open up new pathways of hope.

We will keep you posted on this first community garden of Palo Chino.


  1. Kiery
    17:39 on February 11th, 2011

    YES. Plant one seed at a time. Water one plant at a time. Cultivate one small harvest at a time. –Whether it be in the garden or in the hearts and minds of the boys, the girls, the men and the women.

    “we will . . . cultivate creative dreaming in each others’ hearts which will open up new pathways of hope.”

  2. Border Explorer
    14:00 on March 6th, 2011

    Congratulations! There can be little more wholesome and healthy and healing than the planting of seeds of hope. This new garden represents the fruition of lot of work, hope and cooperation. May it bear abundantly!

  3. Andrew Thomas
    09:39 on March 24th, 2011

    Wow…a community garden. The best part of that is community, there is no way that garden is not changing things in Juarez. ¡Animo!

  4. Becca Pirwitz
    10:10 on April 5th, 2011

    can NOT wait to see how this garden develops. it makes me so excited! will the community (parents working with Carmen) be involved in keeping up with it and tending to it?

  5. mmlindsey
    09:42 on April 7th, 2011

    @ Becca – The volunteers who help Carmen will be totally in charge of the garden. In fact, many of them have started different plants at their homes, seed-collected, have chosen what they want to plant and how they want to use the space. Most of them are from families and regions where gardening and farming are core to life and culture; they are incredibly psyched for the opportunity to develop not only this space but start gardens in their own patios and homes.

  6. Becca Pirwitz
    10:01 on April 28th, 2011

    that’s awesome! it makes my heart happy to hear how excited the people of palo chino are to bring life and value to their own commnity and to invest themselves. :)

  7. The Garden Initiative « Projects « Amigos Ministries
    16:12 on June 1st, 2012

    [...] and community gardening, urban farming, micro businesses like Mujeres Fuertes, and initiatives like Beautifying the Barrio, we will cultivate creative dreaming in each others’ hearts and build a remarkable [...]

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