Tag Archives: garden

Farming, faith and eating well: initiatives

Brooklyn Grange Roof

Interest in growing fresh vegetables and farming is real life these days in many urban settings.There is significant concern for wellness issues like where is our food coming from and how is it raised. The impact of bad practices and careless behavior is taking a toll on people in a multiplicity of ways: poverty, hunger, cancer, mental illness, human sustainability, and the like.

City farming is the subject of this video report by Monocle. It provides some very interesting things to think about like, space, soil, nutrients, people, being co-creators, etc. The three reports given in the Monocle video look at innovative work in Japan, NYC and Norway. Watch the report. In the New Haven area there are some community gardens sprouting up, for example, Yale University has a community garden the Yale Farm (Edwards Street) and then there are lots of modest initiatives. Plus, the growing of farmers’ markets.

I have a modest garden with edibles and decoratives. But I can’t sustain a family on what I grow. I have learned to make pickles from homegrown cucumbers, and I will can tomatoes, but if I had other favorable factors I could do more. My grandparents would be proud since that’s how they managed to live. ¬†What I have concluded is that life is much better with homegrown produce than what is purchased in big stores like Walmart and Big Y. Well, that’s for the spring and summer. Come the autumn and winter we have to go back to the store.

But this matter is a part of a larger question of faith and ecology. The biblical and sacramental life of the Church have something to say to us today. In my mind, Christians have to reclaim what it means to live well with with what God has given through a sacramental lens. For this reason, I am thinking more and more about the role the Benedictines can play in the development of a faith and ecology project. The Benedictine charism is one in which simplicity, faith, work, study, mutual obedience, concern for the other and co-creation with God are high values. Plus, the monastic life with its emphasis on moderation lived in communion with others is key. I would also include the ecclesial movements of Communion & Liberation and Focolare as key infrastructures of grace and holiness. With a few spare moments here-and-there I am trying to think about a Christian’s response to the matter of food, wellness, farming, and the like. People like Ken Myers (Mars Hill Audio Journal), Norman Wirzba (Duke Divinity School), Fred Bahnson (Wake Forest Divinity School) and Wendell Berry (public intellectual) along with Pope Benedict XVI are setting the stage for new things.

a small garden with a punch

the small garden 2011.jpgFather Giussani spoke of sacrifice in our context as including what we do with our spare time. When we have time to spare, do we read, do we pray, do we spend quality time with family, friends, or our beloved, do we watch hours of TV, or, do we help the poor and needy? How we spend our free time reveals who we are as persons. How we use time speaks of our values and how we flourish.

Some of my free time –which time is a premium these days– is spent with two gardens. Spending time in the garden is relaxing and keeps me grounded (pun intended) and it allows me to unwind, and to pray. Plus, it keeps me connected with my heritage. My grandparents would be so proud.

My large garden is a flower garden (under the patronage of St Francis of Assisi) and the small garden (see above is under the patronage of St Fiacre) is a vegetable garden.
Thus far, I’ve harvested lots of cucumbers of which I made pickles but some went to salads, others went to family and other cukes went to a local monastery. Tomatoes are coming now; I had my first two yesterday. AND, I picked my first cayenne pepper for my pickles today and I am waiting for my habaneros. Oh, yea, my horseradish is finally showing signs of growth.
homemade pickles 2011.jpgToday, the leaks replaced the cucumbers and the squash plants are growing daily.

The pickles I made two weeks ago are delicious, if I say so myself; they have a slight kick due to the hot peppers added and garlic. The pickle recipe comes from my friend and colleague Tom.
Today’s pickle batch were prepared for a CL picnic at the end of the month.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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