Tea in Garden 2014 Speeches– Executive Director Flavio Sloat

Treasure in the Garden:


 Five years ago — after a massive rainstorm we had our 1st Tea in the Garden with about 3 tables and 20-30 people…

I read this verse from the teachings of Jesus.

From “Matthew 13

verse 44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field”

Then, looking out into the gravelly barren darkness where we now presently sit I continued:  Like the parable, it may seem crazy to those who don’t see the hidden potential of this “fruitful field” in a poor neighborhood with a bad reputation.  But for us this is a place where, just like today, sunshine and rainbows emerge right after torrential rains. So, here in the middle of young trees, growing vegetables we invite you to be part of expanding and uncovering this hidden treasure.

Your involvement can make a difference by speeding up the story of how a lowly, weed-covered field becomes a place of rich treasure that enriches in ways both unexpected and grand.”

Fast Forward to tonight. Back then it was mostly a dream but now the treasure that some of us saw in the gravel and rocks is now a treasure that is much more visible.

This treasure grew largely because we, the Fruitful Field volunteers and supporters, believed it could happen, and inspired by this vision and mission, we invested money, sweat (lots), and time. This treasure is not a conventional treasure that sits on a shelf or in safe but one that is both gritty and sweet, difficult and blessed.

Main Speech:

Thank you Wayne, Chloe, hostesses and all the volunteers that make this possible.

There is hidden Treasure in this Field perched next to the freeway where young and old, rich and poor; we work, eat, and create treasure together.

As sociology grad student many years ago I studied how human society worked. One of the key concepts was stratification- or layers– that defined groups of people; groups who pretty much spent all their time in their own ‘layer’.

These layers are often

  • Income
  • Race
  • Religion

Using these Layers or “clubs”, societies then divide out the physical and social goods: there are often some pretty simple rules–

  • The good stuff is for members of club
  • The good stuff is for those who “deserve” it and can pay.
  • The People not in the club are probably “bad” for a variety of reasons, and who therefore don’t ‘deserve it’.

The Fruitful Field and its partner church, Parkway United Methodist, have decided to disagree with this rule of human society.

There’s a passage in the Bible where Jesus speaks, and explains hospitality. It goes like this:

Luke 14: Verse 12 Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him:

When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. 13 When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death.”

Here on this property we’ve been crazy enough to actually try and do this, giving being Hospitable and giving out Treasure all the time, regardless of whether or not ‘you deserve it’:

Let me give you a few examples:

  • On Saturday mornings during our growing season visitors to the food pantry here always have beautiful organic collards and kale greens available to them- and they are popular!
  • On our volunteer days–and even during the week–people of all ages, religions, social groups , income levels, sexual orientations and housing status join us in sweating it out under the sun and on our 3rd Saturday’s finish by eating together a meal–cooked up from the garden and eaten in the garden!
  • Healthy bodies need good food, for sure, they also need to feel clean and refreshed, for the last six years the Parkway church has maintained a outdoor shower, hot and cold water there in the wooden box by the garden entrance, it’s open 24/7 and on Saturday morning there is a line of folks waiting their turn and strolling through the garden for some mulberries or a sunflower to take with them.
  • In our Buy One Give One share program we have customers in red BMW convertibles parking next to a 1990 Toyota Corollas, their owners picking up exactly the same vegetables and saying hi to each other.
  • US Veterans from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan volunteer here bringing dignity and leadership to the work we do together.
  • At the Wednesday night meal at the church– which is open to all and with good attendance by working poor families and homeless individuals–the Fruitful Field supplies the salad- fresh beautiful greens sprinkled with mulberries, a salad the likes of which Whole Foods knows nothing about.

That’s a sample — AND We aren’t planning at stopping at this– we want to keep growing this place and creatively offering even more ways to experience Food, Education and Community.

So we invite You, the Tea in the Garden gathering of patrons and volunteers to continue making this a place of Treasure and crazy, upside-down hospitality:

  • Come and teach us how to cook your favorite greens recipe
  • Help us figure out how to fund, design, and build an outdoor learning kitchen so we can together teach and experience the wonders of fresh food all the the time.
  • Harvest Arugula in the early morning and sit around afterwards with day old bagels and coffee
  • Create a garden Salad on a Wednesday afternoon and then sit down and share a meal with those from this neighborhood and hear their fascinating and amazing stories.
  • Help us finish our irrigation system to even better capture our torrential Florida rains
  • Come out to a 3rd Saturday volunteer day or become a regular volunteer during the week
  • Right now, Contribute some of your hard earned income that will let us buy the stinky chicken fertilizer that our vegetables love so much.
  • Join our Perennials Club and give a fixed amount each month to keep this place growing- details on the website

There is real Treasure in this formely barren, now Fruitful Field. Join us, and be part of what is happening so that in five more years we can look back on tonight and say

Gosh, we were just getting started back in 2014!”


Remember Tonight THIS is our story, a Treasure in the making —

Feel free to continue uncovering treasure tonight—- taking a tour, strolling the paths, getting ideas for a home garden, chatting with others, enjoying the evening!

Thank you and go in Peace