Is this a religious organization?

The Garden School is an educational organization, and people of all backgrounds and perspectives are welcome here. We strive to foster an environment in which original thinking is encouraged and dogma is not imposed. Each person has the opportunity to cultivate their own philosophy of living, and we understand that sincere people will have different world-views. We hope that through sharing life and through dialoging together, we can each benefit from one another’s outlooks and experiences. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

While the organization itself isn’t religious, the leadership and the mission of the organization are greatly inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus taught that each person is a beloved child of God, and he revealed that profound joy attends working with God to love and care for other people. To us, the work of creating this school and growing healthy food for the local community is an expression of our gratitude to God and an effort to do a small part in making “Earth as is it is in Heaven”.

I don’t expect participants to be followers of Jesus or to be religious at all, but it is my hope that through working creatively in service to each other and to the community, participants will experience the joys of social service. I hope that by glimpsing the ecological wonders in the gardens and landscape, participants will feel more connected to the Source of Life and feel more at home in the universe. And I hope that by having space and encouragement to cultivate the inner life and to ask the deep questions, participants will connect with the Divine spark within them that can sustain an eternal career of adventurous exploration, thrilling service, and spiritual growth.

-Ben Zoba, Director of Programs

Why is farming and gardening a part of a program designed for personal development?

It has been my experience that learning how to work with nature to grow food in a sustainable way is a supremely empowering experience. We all need food to survive, and by gaining a deeper understanding of how to connect directly to the earth for our sustenance, we feel more secure, more grateful, and are better positioned to feed ourselves and others throughout our lifetime.

Furthermore, observing nature’s patterns can reveal deep truths about other aspects of life, and by seeking to strike step with these patterns we tend to grow as people. It’s no coincidence that wise teachers from various cultures have long used nature parables to reveal deeper truths. Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve been a part of have happened while joyfully working in the field.

Also, many people feel bad about how humans have interacted with our natural environment, but caring for the soil and land is an opportunity to positively engage with our environment in a way that is fun and rewarding.

Finally, food that is grown in a way that honors nature’s patterns tends to be more nutritious and delicious. Taste and see that the Universe is friendly!

-Ben Zoba

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution