We love a great before and after and these photos show some of the changes from this past year!

Our backyard is getting a makeover. For years it has been an unusable space filled with old railroad elements, uneven terrain, and lots of rocks. Last year we added a garden to a small part and had great success growing our first vegetables! This year we extended the garden and with the help of many volunteers we removed the railroad ties and cleared out a lot of weeds. We are so excited to be able to use this space for gardens and fruit trees, as a lawn for fun activities when we have groups here for an extended time, to host events, and be a better steward of what we have!

It has been a pleasure to work with so many people in such a short amount of time and what a blessing to us and to the communities that we serve! We appreciate the teams from Wells Fargo, the Senior class from Jackson Olin High School and the youth group from The Station Church coming make all these projects possible. This time of planting seeds and plants in our 7 community gardens has kept me and CSM staff and volunteers plenty busy.

Our partnership with New Rising Star continues to stretch it’s roots deep into the fabric of our ministry, and this past month we continued that momentum by connecting with NRS and Station Church in Hoover to construct a new community garden across the street from “The Star” next to the Day Care Center. With the help of 70 middle and high school students, we were able to install a new place for the staff of New Rising Star to continue to improve their efforts in reaching the East Lake community in so many different ways!

This year we decided to build an aquaponic greenhouse and it has been so successful that we are adding a second greenhouse for more production and to be able to start seeds in the winter! This area used to be a large dirt field and now it houses two greenhouses and a second garden! We are excited to be able to grow more produce year-round using the aquaponic method and to share this method with school children, other ministries and non-profits, and our international friends who are passionate about getting great food to more people in areas where water is a limited resource.

This is the another view of the garden next to the aquaponic greenhouses. This area became a second garden with raised beds this spring and this summer we added a pavilion built by boy scouts! The pavilion will provide much needed shade for working in the garden and a place to sit while waiting to tour the greenhouses. And it has already become a great place to sit and have a conversation or enjoy a minute of quiet reflection during a busy day. These improvements are transforming the warehouse into an even greater place for people to come and volunteer, learn, and minister to each other!