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Psalm 23 Garden launches campaign for community gardens nationwide

Sarah Eberle’s Psalm 23 Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is set to spearhead a campaign to see the creation of community gardens around the country as we emerge from the pandemic. 

Sarah’s garden at the first-ever September Show is on the theme of Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd) for international charity Bible Society. It is hoped that it will inspire many to create community gardens on the psalm’s theme as lockdown eases. 

Bible Society has published an easy-to-use guide on how to create such a community garden and an accompanying video, and there are special resources for schools too.

Sarah (pictured right) said: “Creating a community garden gives us an opportunity to overcome the loneliness that we’ve all felt. It will build communities' mental welfare and it enhances the environment. 

She added: “We know that gardening is good for our mental health as well as our physical health. Gardening together helps build communities and friendships. I hope people get fun, health and community spirit from this.

“Green spaces are so important, particularly in urban settings,” she said. 

The well-known biblical text is highly visual, making it perfect for a community garden design. It refers to ‘green pastures’, ‘still waters’, a difficult journey and a homecoming at that journey’s end. So just four elements are needed to create a garden: a tree, wildflower planting, water and seating.

Prof Paul Williams, CEO of Bible Society, said: “We’ve all spent too long apart over the last year. It would be wonderful to create community gardens together as a positive way of emerging from the pandemic.” 

He added, “The garden expresses something of the mood and message of one of the best-loved passages in the Bible. So, we hope it’s a reminder and an invitation to go back to something foundational, spiritual and beautiful in our lives.

“Psalm 23 is all about God’s care and kindness toward us even in very difficult times. It invites us to look to God in the troubles of life.”

The first Psalm 23-inspired community garden was created during lockdown in Tadley in Hampshire. 

“There was a sense in the community that something was happening,” said minister of St Mary’s Church, the Revd Gill Sakakini. “When we planted it, we could barely see the seeds. But week by week things grew and there was something that people could engage with when there was very little going on.”

Now, she said, the garden has become “a focal point for the community”.

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