New Echo Park parish garden to nourish body and soul

Courtesy Cathedral Center of St. Paul

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Masa of Echo Park

ECHO PARK –– An empty lot next to the Cathedral Center of St. Paul has been turned into a parish garden that will supply fresh produce to local families as well provide the essential ingredients to create sacramental oil and bread .

On Saturday, the feast day of St. Athanasius, the garden, known as Edendale Grove, was dedicated after volunteers and members of the Episcopal church created a “living labyrinth,” a maze-like, prayer path planted with lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, peppers and other edibles, said Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija.  Citrus, fig, avocado, and plum trees were also planted under the church’s Seeds of Hope  program, which has been turning church properties into urban farms.

Those who tend the garden are invited to “meditate on being mindful, prayerful, and helpful,” said Tim Alderson, Seeds of Hope executive director, during remarks at the garden dedication.  “Here we can follow an intentional prayerful practice, aware of every plant along the path. The garden is fully a place of prayer, and of putting prayer into action by serving others.”

The garden,  located on Echo Park Avenue across from the Echo Park Lake,  occupies a parcel that has been empty since an apartment building was demolished several years ago. At one point a sign was hung on the fence announcing the arrival of a dog park on the empty lot. But that sign turned out to be a prank. Now, the lot will serve as a demonstration site for best practices in urban farming and water conservation.

Produce grown will be distributed through the parish’s food bank, which serves some 300 qualifying families and persons on Thursday and Friday mornings.  In addition to growing food for families, the garden will also be planted with olives trees and wheat to produce sacramental oil and bread.

Edendale Grove, once established, will offer occasional small-group tours and training sessions, Lebrija said. At present, garden access is limited to workers in order to protect the new plants and trees as they take root. The garden is tended by parishioners who volunteer in partnership with Seeds of Hope, which is based next door at the Cathedral Center.

The name Edendale Grove was inspired by the by the biblical story of the Garden of Eden but also honors the community of Edendale, where silent films were produced along the border of modern day Echo Park and Silver Lake.

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A labyrinth occupies the front of Edendale Grove | Courtesy Cathedral Center of St. Paul

Courtesy Cathedral Center of St. Paul

Courtesy Cathedral Center of St. Paul

Courtesy Cathedral Center of St. Paul

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