We had the privilege of founding Red Clover Farm in 2006. After four years most of our garden visionaries had moved away from Vancouver. We were so pleased to pass on the care for this land to a local church. Our community still participates in the gardening. You can read all about the farm here. You can also watch an interview with former Red Clover Urban Farm founders Tom & Dave here. Many of you may have seen the documentary made about Red Clover Farm. We are currently trying to gain access to the documentary for our readers.
Tablecloths on long tables, tea-lights,the smell of cooking and there you have it: another community kitchen at our Jacob’s Well storefront. This is where we eat together as a community: Jacob’s Well and many of our neighbours upstairs in the Jubilee Rooms. In conjunction with the Vancouver Food Bank, the idea behind our Kitchen is that old, oft abandoned image of the family sitting down to dinner. It certainly has many of the characteristics of the best and the worst family meals.
A few of us go shopping at our local market and then some of our friends from the Jubilee Rooms come and help cook. A few are far better cooks than any of the volunteers at Jacob’s Well, so we try and learn as much as possible from them. Many folks pop in to keep us company while things are taking shape. We always put the coffee on early so that people can come in, and in no time the front room is usually packed with hungry stomachs and familiar faces and far more laughter than sadness. It is a hallowed moment as we pause the whole operation for a minute or so of silence before we say grace and eat. Looking around the room then – as the talking has stopped – is to be struck by the beauty of the scene. Every single week we thank God for bringing us all together like this – an unlikely group of dinner companions. Friends along the often harsh journey of life. Eating food as we should all be able to eat – in the company of others.
Twice a month our team delivers food to people who require assistance from the food bank but for a variety of reasons have trouble accessing it. We began doing this in partnership with an organization called Neighbourlink, a ministry of World Vision Canada, a number of years ago.
Each week we connect with various friends in the neighbourhood. These intentional times have become a consistent and significant relationship-building experience. We are given the chance to connect in real ways with people who might not otherwise have visitors. Sometimes an apartment will get cleaned. Someone might share a personal story about their past. We always find time to pray with and for one another. Visitation is an opportunity to be in people’s space, to be present to them where they are at.
Once a week, downtown eastside staff gather together in our front room to eat their lunches and to pray with each other. The demands of working with people who are sick and often dying, as well as daily facing problems that can seem insurmountable, creates high burn out for staff in this area. We have discovered great strength and joy in spending lunches together and we welcome other downtown eastside staff to join us. For information please email email@example.com.
Twice a week we gather together to worship God musically with our voices and our instruments. These times are integral to who we are as a community. We recognize that when we worship God together we experience His manifest presence. This brings healing and life to us and our neighbourhood. It is a time for intimate expression of our deep love for God.
Our annual Jacob’s Well holiday has become our most anticipated week of the year. For the past 5 summers we have caravanned to the Okanagan to have a working holiday together, at the Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver. This week sees about 40 of our community – adults, youth and children – camping out in a plum orchard.
At the Gleaners we spend our mornings prepping vegetables, which would have made it to a compost or dump if not for this initiative. After the vegetables have been cleaned and chopped they are dried and made into 100 serving soup mixes, which are shipped 70 bags to a barrel, all over the world. These mornings of work are a beautiful time of getting to know one another over a table of onions, peppers, carrots, or whatever vegetable happens to be in front of us! In the afternoon we play…sightseeing, hitting the beach, going for walks, napping, reading and even rafting. Our evenings see us gather around the table for feasting, songs, and sharing, which leads to worship, prayer and often games. Our gleaning holiday, as you can imagine, is our favourite week of the year, full of community strengthening life and joy!
To learn more about the Okanagan Gleaners please visit www.okanagangleaners.ca
Jacob’s Well is a community, not just a place we serve “at”. As a result, we place a high priority on spending time together. To this end, we gather as a community in a variety of ways, both big and small.
Most days finds us sharing the table together, especially for lunch. This is a time where we can get to know one another more, and find out what is happening for one another. We take these times as a good opportunity to pray together as well.
Several times a year we gather the whole community together. These are very rich times! We have often have an annual Harvest Party, Christmas Brunch, Annual General Meeting in late winter, and our summer Gleaning trip. These larger gathering are characterized primarily by lots of fun, excellent food, worshipping in song and hearing stories of what God is doing among us. They are times we look forward to and do our utmost to not miss out on.