May. It’s the time of year when many of us who have, or aspire to have, a green thumb turn our minds to gardening. Some may have already been nursing self-propagated seedlings for weeks, waiting for the right time to transplant them outside. Others make the trip to the local garden centre for flower or vegetable seedlings.
What are you growing in your garden this summer? My wife makes sure there is a selection of flowers to add colour and aroma to both the front and back yards. I like a selection of annual vegetable plants, including peas, beans, cucumbers, carrots, squash and beets, along with some tomato seedlings.
But that covers only half the plants we maintain on the fringes of our small city property. Over the years, we have planted a number of perennials and bushes, from strawberries to raspberries, and Nankings to Saskatoons. The pleasure of harvesting fruit without having to plant new each year is always a joy.
Like our spring garden planting, we also have the opportunity to plant our charitable gardens, gardens that benefit others. Like my wife, who enjoys the beauty of flowers, some enjoy supporting the arts and cultural organizations in their community that bring the beauty of art or music to others.
Some may contribute their charitable dollars or garden harvests to the local food bank. Others regularly donate blood, or volunteer at their local thrift store, knowing the proceeds from the store help with relief work around the world. Such donors tend to be practically minded. They know there are many little things they can do to help the immediate needs of the underprivileged in their communities or around the world.
Then there are those who support charities that seek to build a better world over the long term, like those who plant fruit trees or vineyards, or that provide children with basic needs and education resources to allow them future opportu-nities they would otherwise not have.
Our generosity gardens may also include mission organizations that impact individuals and communities with an holistic message of spiritual, physical and social freedom.
What type of gardener are you? Do the charities you support reflect the type of garden you plant? When meeting with individuals in my role with Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC), I enjoy sharing stories about gardening. It is even more exciting to hear the passion people have for supporting a variety of local and international charities. I would love to hear your stories about the charitable seeds you are planting today and the benefits you are hoping to see develop because of your investment.
You may rely on your local garden centre to assist you with your spring gardening supplies and questions as you envision your summer gardening plans. In the same way, MFC is available as a resource centre for your charitable gardening, from annual giving to long-term charitable fund management.
“Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever’ ” (II Corinthians 9:6-9).
Harold Penner is a stewardship consultant at Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) serving generous people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and chari-table gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit MennoFoundation.ca.