Building a sense of community is just as important as growing vegetables at Alice’s Garden.
Located in an empty lot off of North 21st Street and West Garfield Avenue, Alice’s Garden is a hub of urban agriculture that is centered as much around spirituality as it is gardening. In this space, community members rent plots; garden-goers gather for worship; volunteers mulch, plant and weed; local artisans sell their wares at markets; movie nights delight children; and crowds gather for yoga.
All of this is the brainchild of Venice Williams, executive director and evangelical minister, who has helmed the enterprise since 2014. “We’re striving to build a close-knit, old-style community in the 21st century that is focused on connection and spiritual healing,” she says. “Though I am part of the evangelical church, you do not have to share my belief system to pray with us. It’s more about feeling connected to God and also to the land.”
On Wednesday evenings during the summer months, it’s easy to see Williams’ mission coalesce. Community members gather to share a meal and walk the labyrinth, a path reserved for prayer and meditation. Plot owners take a break from gardening to participate in The Table, a potluck dinner combined with prayer that is led by Williams, who also doles out gardening advice during her downtime. On these nights, Alice’s Garden seems like a little bit of paradise, where hope is plentiful, food is available to all and everyone is welcome.