On Saturday, March 5th, over twenty volunteers gathered to break ground on an effort to create a community garden on the campus of the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi.  By the end of the day, two 4 x 20 raised beds stood ready for planting in the front yard of the La Verna House. 

Many volunteers offered their hands, their strong backs, and their equipment, including three garden tillers.  St. Francis parishioners Pat and Paul Kelly are leading this initiative to bring a community garden to St. Francis’ campus through a Poverello Fund grant they received last year.  They continue to be guiding lights in this great project. 

SFA parishioner Eric Stanford, particularly, made a very generous gift of his time, labor, and lumber with the raised bed frames.  What was once going to be made into cabinets, Eric turned the white cedar wood into beautiful frames for this garden.  He put them together on site on Saturday with help from Girl Scouts Laura Sheridan and Zarya Curran. 

Laura recently received her Harvest Badge for her attention to eating responsibly and food justice issues.  As she helped Eric put together the raised beds and future trellising, she was able to make deeper connections about what it takes to eat from the bounty of the earth.  Zarya hopes eventually to be able to plant some flowers to bring in beneficial garden insects to the garden. 

Instrumental to the day’s overall flow was Deb Nelson who has been offering lectures and workshops at Logan’s Nursery for the last ten years.  She works full-time as principal librarian for NC Symphony, but SFA parishioners Pat and Paul Kelly took a Gardening 102 workshop from Deb at Logan’s over the past couple months, Deb took an interest in our project.  She ended up spending several hours with us getting her hands dirty with shovel and rake, directing the placement of the beds, and offering suggestions on ratio of mixing soil and compost.  She noted, “I think your veggies will be mighty darn happy in these beds.”

Another very beautiful donation came from Nature’s Green Releaf out of Franklinton, NC who donated nearly 20 cubic yards of finished compost.  By adding organic soil conditioner, finished cow manure, and this compost, we are set to have the most fertile soil in north Raleigh.  The plans are set for April 30th to plant the first set of transplants into the garden beds.  We also hope to celebrate the planting with a prayer service and picnic. 

Also, see this short YouTube video from the morning’s work.

In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi and rooted in our parish’s mission, we believe that the earth and all life is sacred.   Through teaching and example, the Catholic Community of St. Francis continues to investigate ways to incorporate environmental stewardship into all aspects of parish life.  This community garden project is one of the important ways we are doing this.

The mission of the SFA community garden is:

1.   To provide a place for community members to grow fresh, organic vegetables and fruits and experience God’s creation first-hand;

2.  To provide education and appreciation for how food is grown and to encourage healthy eating habits in our community;

3.  To bring together people of our parish and local community;

4.  To provide fresh, organic produce to those in our community who are hungry.

For more information about the community garden, contact Paul and Paul Kelly at mpmkelly@hotmail.com