Bethany Home and Backyard welcomes Topekans for gardening, meditation

Bethany Home and Backyard welcomes Topekans for gardening, meditation

A new community garden area brings a fresh feel to central Topeka with four unique areas.

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas welcomes the public to its newly landscaped garden at Bethany House and Garden, 835 SW Polk. The garden has four different areas, each with a specific purpose.

Cathleen Bascom, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, said, “People of all kinds” are beginning to appear in the garden to become familiar with it.

“I’m excited to see the young people of Topeka High just starting to come and be there,” Bascom said.

Bethany Garden has four unique areas inside

Cabbages, peppers and other edible plants are included in the Culinary Food Garden at Bethany House and Garden.

The Prairie and Pollinator Garden: This garden, the closest to Polk Street, has several types of plants, such as It provides habitat for monarch butterflies. Nearby elementary schools will be encouraged to use the space for classroom activities.

The culinary food garden: Featuring more than 10 raised vegetable and herb beds for growing seasonal fruits and vegetables, the culinary garden provides on-the-spot learning and addresses the food desert issue for local residents.

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Leaves rest on a fountain of the Spiritual Life Garden at Bethany House and Garden.

St. Simons Chapel: An outdoor event space is provided for church services, weddings, concerts and more. The chapel is dedicated to St. Simon’s Episcopal Church, a black Episcopal Church that closed in 1964.

The Garden of Spiritual Life: This is a room for silent prayer and meditation with two benches and the attached circular path.

Bethany Garden has two entrances with concrete walkways to each area within the garden and is open to the public.

Bethany Place Garden is situated on historic land

At the south end of Bethany House is St. Simon's Chapel, which features an outdoor archival photograph of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.

Garden of Bethany Place is part of a 50-acre lot given by the Topeka founders of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas in 1860 to build the College of the Sisters of Bethany, an all-girls school.

The land is now divided into Grace Cathedral to the north, Topeka High School to the south and west, and three diocesan buildings.

Gardeners meet every Thursday at 7:30 to volunteer. Anyone interested in volunteering at Bethany Garden can call Jennifer Allen at 913-620-7773 or email

More:Topeka neighborhood could get more than $3 million. Here are the projects being considered.

ShaMecha King Simms is the St. Simon’s Justice and Advocacy Community Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. She said partnership and building trust are “vital” for success in a space like the garden.

“A lot of people don’t feel comfortable exploring their neighborhoods,” King Simms said. “They have the idea that it’s not safe or that this isn’t public property. So it’s important to go to the schools and other churches and to go into the community to talk about this space.

“It inspires people to want to be benevolent in their own way, and that’s really what I think this space is quietly saying — ‘How can we give of what we already have?'”

Keishera has recently been the economics reporter for the Topeka Capital journal. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Lately_KT.