Our Minister of Food and Gardening

Sherry Maddock, unofficial and highly effective Minister of Food and Gardening in Lexington, Kentucky

Sherry Maddock, unofficial and highly effective Minister of Food and Gardening in Lexington, Kentucky

When a radiance comes into one's life and one's neighborhood, things light up really fast. I mark the moment, not so long ago, when Sherry Maddock moved with her family into our neighborhood as the moment when decades of decline and need began turning toward optimism and hope. The story is rich, with many important characters and details and events. I call Sherry our "Minister of Food and Gardening," and I'll concentrate on that part of her community-changing, life-changing work in this post, although I will have to include a few other people and sub-plots if I am to shine an effective light on this one strand of Sherry's wonderful ministry.

Yesterday Sherry sent a few friends this story about the potential of urban agriculture to feed us -- and employ us. Several things about this one small, familiar, information-sharing act will help tell the story I'm interested in telling here. First, the article describes new initiatives in cities to grow food, something Sherry is making happen in Lexington right this minute. Second, Sherry got this article from her Co-Minister, husband Geoff Maddock, who is full partner in bringing a renewed sense of possibility and goodness to our part of town.


Third, I add this article to the many useful books, articles, and ideas I have received from Geoff through Sherry. Geoff has a gift for contributing almost invisibly, in this way and many others. He also has a splendid gift of photographic genius, documenting the very heart of family and community events with a quiet discretion I appreciate so very much. But I have worked hard to catch him in the act of shooting -- and you'll see I have succeeded.

In the photograph above, Sherry (left) and Geoff (right) help organize the first ever community orchard planting in north Lexington, a project Sherry envisioned and managed from start to finish.

In the photograph below, I catch the elusive master photographer taking a break from planting to document the orchard installation.

Geoff Maddock, minister to a community of promise and need, and brilliant photographer

Geoff Maddock, minister to a community of promise and need, and brilliant photographer


The orchard adds the promise of fruit to the already successful London Ferrell Community (Vegetable) garden, which Sherry helped midwife into robust, happy health.


Many, many people said "Yes" to Sherry and the others who first envisioned the London Ferrell Community Garden and Orchard on the site of a former Catholic cemetery and neglected playground now owned by Christ Church Cathedral.


Bob Voll, left above, talking with Geoff, chaired the Church committee responsible for the space. Bob, a retired corporate executive, not only championed the garden and orchard within the Church and community, he worked untold hours to realize the vision of a community that feeds its hungry and feeds itself.


Sherry and Bob shouldered much worry, mystery, and stress while doing the years of work required to plant a new idea: We can become self-reliant, resilient people. We can use our wonderful assets to grow what we need to eat. We can put ourselves and our neighbors to work in real jobs making this happen.


Of all the ways Sherry and Geoff minister to the community they have chosen -- thank heavens!! -- to call home, the primary word I use for their approach is "modeling." They live the life of service they espouse. Their lives serve as their sermon. Their ongoing work to transform their urban backyard into a garden of peace and plenty inspires me daily.

I included some photos from their garden in the video-slideshow in yesterday's post. Today, here's a completely rough 35 second "shoot-around" video I took yesterday morning in Sherry and Geoff's backyard. Look quickly and you will see tender greens, espaliered pear trees, many herbs, tomatoes, Swiss chard, a pomegranate -- and more. I wanted to stay in the peace and plenty, in the sense of hope that shines around this beautiful space.

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