Grapes are one of the most fun things to grow in a home garden. On a small scale, they are relatively easy to grow and maintain, and they produce fruit that is pleasing to people of all ages.

I know our family enjoys watching the grapes form and develop, and they really love picking and eating them! If you have never had the opportunity to snip a fresh cluster of grapes and eat them warm and sun-kissed, right off of the vine, you should do yourself a favor and try it sometime.

Grapes make a nice addition to a home garden for many reasons. The first and most obvious is the delicious fruit that is produced annually. They are attractive plants, and even though they do require attention, they are less maintenance than many other plants that you could establish. Since they are a perennial plant they come back year after year, so planting them is an investment in the beauty and productivity of your garden space. The grape leaves can be used in food preservation such as fermenting, and the grape vines can be dried after pruning and utilized in many ways.

It’s exciting to look at all of the choices and decide which one you want to try to grow! According the Oklahoma State University fact sheet regarding Growing Grapes in the Home Garden, “Grapes can be grown throughout Oklahoma, but because of the diverse climatic conditions across the state, varieties should be selected that are the most adapted to the particular region.” You can read the full article here.

Because there are so many varieties available, selecting one that works for your area isn’t difficult, and you can even choose between red, green and purple.

Before planting, it is best to evaluate your growing area and select a permanent spot that will allow room for a sturdy trellis. You will need access to a good water source and soil that has a Ph range of 5.5 to 6.5. It would be beneficial to obtain a handy reference sheet to help you learn a good spraying schedule and to invest in a sharp pair of pruning shears. Once you have done your homework and are growing, the only thing left to do is begin to look for clusters and enjoy the harvest.

Speaking of clusters, have you ever noticed that most grape clusters look very similar in shape? Even though the size of the individual grapes may differ—the colors of the grapes may differ and the impact of the flavor of different varieties certainly differs—the shape is almost always the same.

Grape clusters remind me of the Church. The size, color and impact of the fruit may be very different, but just as most people can easily recognize a cluster of grapes, they can also recognize “The Church” when they see it in action.

Since mid-March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, church leaders have had the difficult task of evaluating everything about how their church or ‘cluster’ is going to function. It has not been an easy time, but it has been a productive time. Just as pruning is very valuable to grape vines for continued production, so is the cutting away of various activities and programs that keep us “doing church” instead of being the Church.

As our local congregations work to implement positive changes, let us eagerly embrace these new opportunities to break the status quo, get outside the four walls and advance the Gospel by loving people right where they are. Let us stop expecting people to come to us, but rather let us be excited to go to them with the Good News.

Together, let’s pray and ask God to help us produce sweet and abundant fruit that is a blessing to others and that glorifies Himself. May we be so motivated and encouraged to show Jesus Christ to this broken world that we are willing to do things outside of our comfort zone and perhaps, even take on a new shape.