For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a cherished belief is that our Heavenly Father created this world for us as an expression of His love. It was made to be a home where we can learn, grow, and progress. All things on this earth—from the mountains and valleys to the sands and the seas—were created as a gift from God.
These gifts, however, come with a responsibility. “As beneficiaries of the divine Creation, what shall we do? We should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations. And we are to love and care for one another” (Russell M. Nelson, "The Creation," Ensign, May 2000). In the beginning, the Lord instructed Adam and Eve to take care of the garden of Eden (see Genesis 2).
"The earth is vulnerable, and we are accountable to God for how we treat and use it. ... God expects us to care for His glorious creations, including all His children. ...
"We should live for future generations, not just for our own. This means learning about the earth and having a responsible relationship with it. ... Ultimately, our posture toward the creation is a reflection of our posture toward our Creator" ("In Honoring Creation, We Honor the Creator," Apr. 26, 2018, newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
One community that has taken this message to heart is on the island of Kiribati. Community leaders devised a plan that would help them take not only greater care of the earth but also greater care of each other. They created a community of gardens.
These gardens were devised as a way to combat diabetes, which has been a continuous challenge in Kiribati. Many Kiribati people cannot afford to buy healthy food options for a sufficiently balanced diet. So nurseries were built to grow seedlings, enabling people to improve small family gardens and share the food they grew.
Latter-day Saint Charities helped to make this project sustainable by establishing trainings and providing seedlings to be locally available. Trained gardeners helped local families and shared their gardening knowledge. They provided seeds for cabbage, sweet pepper, cucumber, eggplant, pumpkins, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, spinach, and more. These were distributed to families who were interested and proficient in gardening and who attended the appropriate trainings.
As families planted and cultivated their gardens, they made sure their plots of land were well taken care of—that the soil was free of rubbish and weeds and that the plants received the proper amounts of water and sunshine. Through this program, families learned more about how to care for the earth as well as how to better care for themselves.
The future of these gardens looks bright. A large seed order, twice the size of the 2020 seed order, arrived in Kiribati in January 2021. These seeds will grow seedlings at eight satellite nurseries on the island of Tarawa and will then be distributed to local community gardeners. Additional satellite nurseries are being planned for this year on the five outer islands of Abaiang, Marakei, Maiana, Abemama, and Butaritari.
We can all do something to care for the earth and use its resources for good. Activities such as picking up litter, recycling, planting gardens, avoiding single-use plastics, and spending time in nature increase our health, happiness, and overall well-being. Look for ways you can get involved in community projects near you and become a better caretaker of this "marvelous earth" we have been given.