Growing in Grace Gardens

By Rev. Dr. Sarah R. Cordray

Long before Fred Bredehoeft became a PMA, he began Growing in Grace Gardens in Syracuse. Fred worked as a salesman within the agriculture world prior to retirement, but his hands and heart could not stay away from the dirt when it came to thinking of a project to do with his confirmation youth, he was mentoring in 2016. With the opportunity to create gardens on the land of two church members, Fred and his confirmation youth moved beyond the home garden out into three more. For eight growing seasons now and many more confirmation youth, Fred now annually plants tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, beets, cabbage, zucchini and so much more. The gift of a Thrivent Action Team grant gives seed money every spring.

The abundance of produce from Growing in Grace Gardens serves a purpose through which many are blessed. In one of the gardens’ best year, 5,000 pounds of fresh produce was donated to the Food Bank in Lincoln. This year around 2,500 pounds will be donated. Members of Luther Memorial Church can also count on Growing in Grace Gardens produce every summer where tables are prepared weekly with the abundance of produce, and a free-will offering is received of approximately $1,000 each year. This free-will offering is then used to benefit the Syracuse Community Food Pantry.

Often times, a soul will see Fred working in the gardens and stop to help. The church has done a Sign-Up Genius in previous years to gather volunteers, but Fred remains the constant soul of these gardens always serving with a smile and purpose. Fred shared that his joy comes when there’s always a smile on someone’s face receiving, especially those who cannot have or are unable to have a garden. Their gratitude is Fred’s joy.

At Luther Memorial, we function together through our vision S.O.W.E.R. (serve, outreach, worship, educate, reach out) so that we may care for the seeds of faith God grows. We thank God for the gift of Fred and Growing in Grace Gardens so that we may literally see and understand how such small seeds grow into an abundance for the gifts of others. Fred is a S.O.W.E.R of seeds, not only as a PMA, but also a gardener growing God’s grace for others.