Compiled by Mike Viola and originally published on omiusa.org
Philippine Priest Brings Garden To Life
Reaping the fruits of one’s labor is taking place at a Missionary Oblate parish on the outskirts of Manila in the Philippines. The urban gardening project, called “Project Grace,” is being spearheaded by Fr. Eduardo Vasquez, O.M.I. and the other Oblates at Our Lady of Holy Grace Parish.
“I want to prove that it is possible to plant vegetables in an urban community and in your own home despite the absence of a backyard or a piece of land,” said Fr. Vasquez.
During the Covid-19 lockdown many poor families told Fr. Vasquez they did not have enough food to eat. So he developed a program at the parish aimed at helping poor families secure their own food.
Father Vasquez uprooted all the decorative plants around the parish compound and replaced them with plants that can be harvested and eaten. He urged the staff and church volunteers to collect used plastic containers and empty cans that they later used for planting.
Today the urban garden produces various fruits and vegetables including bananas, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, okra, taro, grapes and various herbal plants. Father Vasquez said to respond to the call of Pope Francis “to care for our common home” should not be complicated.
“To translate the message of the Holy Father for people to understand, we need to show them what a concrete ecological action really means,” he said.
Rebirth of a Garden in Oakland
When a charter school in Oakland, California went to virtual learning, gardens at the school were abandoned and eventually overgrown. That’s when Fr. Jack Lau, O.M.I. and parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish stepped in.
Father Jack and his volunteers revitalized the gardens which began to provide a bounty of vegetables. The fresh vegetables are now being distributed to parishioners who may have been laid off or otherwise are in need of help.
As a multicultural parish, some parishioners have enjoyed touring the gardens just to remind themselves of gardening back in the Philippines, Vietnam or Nigeria.
In addition to his gardening skills, Fr. Jack also recently became a Laudato Si’ animator which involves training in how to help the community care for creation.
La Vista Learning Garden
Since its inception in 2001, the La Vista Ecological Learning Center has taught that how we eat determines, to a great extent, how we care for creation.
The La Vista Learning Garden, located on the grounds of the Oblate Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois is one of the learning center’s primarily education program.
The Learning Garden allows Oblate novices, along with members of the community, to learn and practice:
- Sustainable gardening skills like creating a garden plan, organic soil preparation, fertilization, crop rotation and harvesting vegetables and fruits.
- Raising and caring for chickens
- Backyard beekeeping
- Cooking and nutrition
- Hand carving kitchen utensils
- Do it yourself recycled garden decorations