Thursday, 10 January 2019 11:31

Church provide Outdoor Learning Opportunity for schools

Megan Patterson, CVE Scotland Management Committee Member, is excited about the community links made by this church which includes local schools...

A foretaste of heaven 

Coatbridge isn’t the destination that immediately springs to mind for the place to spend a happy afternoon in autumnal fresh air!  Drive past the chip shop and the bookies, the barber’s hidden by metal shutters and the paper shop with its peeling paint and you come to Coatbridge Community Orchard. What was once a piece of derelict land, today boasts 70 fruit trees in neat rows. Coatbridge orchard sign

On 29th September 2018 there was festivity in the air as members of Hope Church, Coatbridge and members of the community chopped and pressed the apples and bottled the juice. Children sat for story-time under a tall sunflower which masqueraded as Jack’s beanstalk. Old and young competed for the longest piece of apple peel and licked toffee apples as they chatted excitedly about the success of the orchard. Coatbridge apple pressing

And success it is! The apple juice is quite definitely the best I have ever tasted, but there’s more:  the hard work involved in transforming this piece of rough ground into a wheelchair-accessible place of beauty and productivity has helped the church members form deep friendships in the community. 

At the suggestion of the minister, Rev Ivor MacDonald, whose brainchild the orchard is, the local schools have played their part too. First they had a competition to see who could design the best poster to make the orchard known.  The two primary schools nearest to the orchard now each have a raised bed for outdoor learning activities.  A bug hotel is envisaged in the near future as well as seats for quiet enjoyment of this beautiful place.   Coatbridge apple juice

On that autumn Saturday as I sipped the juice, Isaiah 35.1 came to mind : The wilderness will rejoice and blossom. And I heard the Lord say :“Well done good and faithful servants in Hope Church, Coatbridge.” 

I’m looking forward to visiting the orchard in the spring to admire the blossom. Meanwhile I’m thinking  - how can I cultivate authentic friendships in my community?


Megan Patterson October 2018

Originally written for a church magazine 'The Record'.

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