Franklin Lakes UMC has partnered with the Borough of Franklin Lakes and its Environmental Commission to build a community garden on town property. A garden next to the church has faithfully grown vegetables for the CUMAC food pantry in Paterson for the last six years. Photo provided

Building Relationships through Music and Vegetables

December 4, 2017 | | GNJ News

FRANKLIN LAKES – As part of its efforts to connect with the surrounding community in new ways, Franklin Lakes UMC has been focusing its energies on two new ministries aimed at relationship-building.

On October 6, the church launched The Old Stone Music and Coffee House, a place for people of all ages to gather for good music, coffee, and conversation. The Old Stone is located in the church’s nearly 100-year-old stone sanctuary, a historic landmark that used to be the only church in town. Together members of the congregation have re-imagined the space as becoming a center of community again. Creating an ambiance that mixes new and old, they have repainted, fixed up the antique lighting, hung church families’ heirloom quilts on the walls, and refurnished with a mix of wood coffee tables, comfortable chairs and even pews anchored along the walls for extra seating.

On every first Friday of the month, local musicians of various ages and styles share quality music with the community. The walls are decorated with the art of a different local artist each quarter, starting off with that of Amanda Hartwell, a member of the church who is a senior art major at her college. Locally roasted coffee and loose leaf tea are served along with seasonal treats. The Old Stone planning team was pleased to welcome nearly 70 people through its doors for the first event, where Steve Palmeri offered folk music on five different instruments including an electric upright bass and a mandolin.

Along with this event aimed at welcoming neighbors and meeting new people, FLUMC has partnered with the Borough of Franklin Lakes and its Environmental Commission to build a community garden on town property. For the past six years, the church has faithfully grown over 1,200 pounds of vegetables for CUMAC, a GNJ mission partner food pantry in Paterson, at a garden next to the church. This second garden in town, funded in part by a Peace with Justice grant from the GNJ Board of Church and Society, came out of a desire to meet people in public space, build community and invite others to join in the mission to feed people in Paterson just a few miles away who often do not get fresh produce. The mayor sees it contributing to his wellness campaign for mental and physical health.

The garden was constructed by a Boy Scout in late July for his Eagle Scout project. Rather than miss a whole growing season, leaders from the church and town decided to aim for a fall harvest. By the beginning of October, the garden had produced ten bunches of spinach, five bunches of kale, five bunches of collard greens, and ten turnips. More of those crops along with bush beans, carrots, beets, and broccoli were ready by mid-October. Next spring the garden will start up in full force, maintained by a group of volunteers from a variety of faith communities, schools and organizations.

To follow these ministries, visit their Facebook pages:

The Old Stone 

Franklin Lakes Community Garden