Our story

Preparing the ground sm

Soil ready for planting, St Oswalds, OHP North Yorkshire

Our story

Parable Garden is a shared vision that aims to use the outdoors and cultivation as a resource for creative teaching and reflection on the Kingdom of God and nurturing spirituality in churches, schools, care homes and gardens.

In September 2013 dreams were shared to use gardens in creatively exploring Kingdom of God through parables, following Jesus’s example, using illustrations from the natural world, farming and cultivation.

Initially we thought we should look for a piece of land perhaps belonging to a church or to individuals who understood the vision. The exercise of pushing this door, helped us listen, discern priorities and learn to wait, not rush ahead of God! At the same time the name ‘Parable Garden’ began to emerge which caused us to think more creatively and from a different angle towards supporting churches, schools  and individuals in their contexts, rather than creating something that required people to come to us.

Alongside this Parable Garden team members were already facilitating partnership project work in schools enriching Christian distinctiveness, ethos and values as well running seasonal creative activities and reflections in a local Care home. These initiatives helped us realise that there was a need to support people in their distinct settings.  Since then we have actively explored these ideas in partnership with churches, schools and individuals, facilitating project work, writing resources and reflections, and developing our own gardens.

A year on we agreed that building community with shared values at the heart of the Parable Garden ministry was a priority, and considered the possibility of team members living in geographical proximity, for example in homes within the same village. Two of the ‘Parable Gardeners’ now live in houses in the same road, which enables more possibilities to build community, to use our homes for pastoral hospitality and to reach out to people locally and beyond. Parable Garden now has a communal vegetable garden in the centre of the village, alongside the studios of Christian artists. The aim of this vegetable patch is to cultivate in step with God as head gardener, to reflect upon the spiritual lessons arising from the seasonal cultivation processes. Read more

Sharing the vision of Parable Garden has been made possible through opportunities at conferences, to write and share reflections in a wider context, such as church leadership, chaplaincies and missional communities. ‘Into the Garden’, a pamphlet for the Grove Book Spirituality series is a reflection on cultivation in spiritual formation and community renewal. Read more

We are regularly contributing new reflections on cultivation, seasonal and nature themes.  Resources for Collective worship and exploring Christian distinctiveness in Primary schools and church holiday clubs are in development. If you are interested in piloting and using some of these resources please do get in touch via our email.

Picture a garden planted with a grape vine over a cloister-like pergola, an olive tree and fruit trees yielding their fruits in season.  Beds with grasses and wild flowers, fragrant herbs and perhaps vegetables flourishing and delighting the senses. Alongside water glistens in a still pool, or trickles softly over some pebbles. Carefully placed seating, with excerpts from scripture, poetry and works of art enable reflection and inspiring creative activity.