Earth Monastery Project Update:
Youth Chaplaincy Coalition Garden Box Project

garden project

Photo: Rev. Dr. Monica Corsaro of Rainier Beach UMC and Rev. Terri Stewart – clearing weeds!

garden project 2The Earth Monastery Project is a partnership between the Abbey and carefully selected applicants, who will receive resources to complete a Project which nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness and cultivate a vision of the earth as our primary monastery. The EMP is a small grant project funded by donations, income from Amazon Associates program, and through a percentage of fees from Abbey online courses.

Rev. Terri Stewart is one of our grant recipients for her project Youth Chaplaincy Coalition: Garden Box Project.

The Abbey Wisdom Council was drawn to Terri’s proposal because her project develops a gardening / mentoring program, pairing dedicated mentors with youth affected by incarceration. Not only will the youth have a long-term mentoring relationship, they will have the opportunity for consistent work in the gardening boxes which will also provide food for food-at-risk families.

garden project 3The location of the project is in the South Seattle area, in zip code 98118, the most diverse zip code in the US and the most impoverished zip code in Seattle.

Our grantees from the fall cycle are midway through their projects and so offer their reports which we are excited to share an excerpt from what Terri shared with us.

Photos Right: Above is Fao planting seeds (of hope!) | Below is Sr. Velena Bryant teaching Jonathan how to use his hand to measure the distance to plant seeds.


Youth Chaplaincy Coalition: Garden Box Project by Terri Stewart

In January of 2013, a dream was born to create a ministry that would help youth affected by incarceration by offering mature mentors, gardening, and youth who have been touched by incarceration, gang violence, or substance abuse. We know that mentorship, relationship building, transforms lives—all the social science literature tells us that! What we also know is that a relationship with the earth through gardening prevents recidivism. Social science literature supports that also! We also know one last piece of the pie—nearly every youth in the 98118 zip code has been touched by incarceration, gang violence, or substance abuse.  Demographics tells us that. It seemed that targeting Rainier Beach UMC, deep in the heart of the 98118, would be a perfect place to plant a new ministry.

Why is gardening important? It provides concrete bound youth with an opportunity to experience the rhythm of God’s creation and to be exposed to the natural cycle of life rather than the harsh reality of life controlled by timers and bars.

Why is mentoring important? It allows youth to develop a relationship with a mature adult who has walked similar paths of incarceration, violence, or substance abuse and who has risen above and out of their original circumstances.

So we gathered on a cold and wet day, the few brave souls coming to support at-risk youth and earth justice and we planted watermelon, cantaloupe, and corn-on-the-cob. This is just the beginning! The youth will be able to take the items they grow and donate it to food marginalized families or they may choose to eat it! Or, they may choose to sell it—showing them an alternative way of having economic justice.

Earth justice – social justice – food justice – and economic justice. Those are some juicy ministry goals! And they all intersect at RBUMC at the corner of 55th and Roxbury in Seattle.


Applications for our next round of Earth Monastery Project grants are now being accepted through April 3oth! We welcome your proposal! Please see this link for details and feel free to email us with any questions.

Would you consider making a donation to this work and support future projects which nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness? (Go to the bottom of this page for the payment link – credit cards accepted)

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