History of God's Garden
During the summer, any gardeners at BLC are encouraged to bring garden goods to church for others to enjoy. A collection is taken and the weekly donations are given to the Wahoo Food Pantry. God’s Garden was started by Steve Olson who is the main contributor. “The garden is really for someone that has less than me.”
How Steve started God’s Garden …
November 2, 2011 – Interview with Steve Olson, Wahoo, Nebraska
“It’s the one place I don’t have to answer the phone. I can hear the neighbor’s cattle and I get lost in what I am doing. It’s just you and the birds, digging your holes, and planting.” These are the words of Steve Olson, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, who has a passion for gardening.”
Growing up, Steve’s mother always had a garden and eating fresh red potatoes was a daily occurrence. A love for potatoes was born. His grandpa also had a garden where many long hours were spent just pulling weeds.
After moving to Wahoo in 2002 with his wife, Angela, and three children, Rochelle, Carleigh, and Braedenn, Steve’s love for gardening was stirred up again. A random conversation with an acquaintance turned to, “maybe I have a field for you.” Steve referred to this conversation as “true fate.”
It was the beginning of his garden which grew into “God’s Garden.” Back behind a barn on a rented farm place in Swedeburg, a large field was set aside for Steve. Out of the generosity of others, no rent was charged, no fee was set for electricity, and water was available. Steve made sure payback for their generosity came in the form of vegetables, lots of them.
The first season was plentiful. Steve started out planting what he thought would be enough for his family and found out how much can be produced. “Plant two or three rows (20 feet long) of green beans and that’s a lot of green beans. You need to find a lot of friends who like vegetables.” Steve said he was practically begging people to take the vegetables. “I learned you don’t need to plant so many rows of cucumbers.”
Through the next several seasons, Steve planted a variety of other vegetables, including tomatoes, onions, green peppers, sweet corn, pumpkins, red potatoes (of course), and experimented with desert king watermelon. Steve said his garden ideas did not always work out as planned, “but I sure tried.” He was also trying to figure out how to share the bounties of his garden. It was not uncommon for his friends to open their door only to find a lone desert king watermelon.
It wasn’t long before the idea of “God’s Garden” was started by Steve at his church, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, in Wahoo, Nebraska. He finally found a way to share his garden with others and the giving was two-fold. Church members donated money for produce and Steve made sure all the money went to the Wahoo Food Pantry.
After six or seven years of planting and a huge surplus of sweet corn, Steve decided to have his kids sell some from the back of their pickup. It was first time in six or seven years a profit was made from the garden. “It was never really about the profit, it was fun money for the kids,” Steve chuckled. “The garden is really for someone that has less than me.”
God’s Garden will continue in some shape or form. Steve sees possibilities of his garden being an open garden that provides opportunity for families to “do God’s mission to help feed others.” As you may have heard him say, “the garden is way too big for one person.”
Steve’s generous attitude is admirable and the seeds have been planted for good things ahead. He states, “food is an easy cause and it fits everyone.”