Green Hope Gardens are a sign of mercy

By Sister Joan Marie Van Beek and Associate Wayne Fontaine

Sister Muriel Kreuziger at the dedication of the Green Hope Garden in May 2012.In 2010, during the monthly associate meetings, Sisters Mariel Kreuziger and Henrita Gonia and the associates reflected on what they might do “to feed the hungry, bring comfort to those in need, provide nourishment for the hungry spirit and be good stewards of the land entrusted to us” (taken from the sisters’ chronicles).

They identified the land surrounding St. Ambrose Church as a perfect site for multiple garden boxes. After getting permission and support from the parish council that year, four 20-by-3-foot garden boxes were built. Sisters, associates and friends from the parish planted, weeded, harvested and shared all of the veggies with the local food pantry, Belpre Area Ministries. In 2011, four more boxes were built.

Associates Joan and Wayne Fontaine have been “lead gardeners” of Green Hope Gardens for the past few years. They organize the work to be done and keep count of the harvest. They have made countless trips to the food pantry with delicious, nutritious food for the hungry, providing a healthy supplement to the canned goods received during the winter months.

In 2015, Green Hope Gardens produced a harvest of beans (20 pounds), sweet peppers (55), zucchini (124), regular tomatoes (157), cucumbers (312), carrots (529) and golden cherry tomatoes (8,934 – yes, we counted them!).

In 2015, the dream of a meditation path meandering around the garden boxes became a reality. With the help of the parish Knights of Columbus, the path with four meditation points and four stone benches was built. These encourage the walker to relax, to take in the beauty of the gardens and to ponder the meditation points.

Feeding the hungry has grown from an idea into a reality, with the investment of time, sweat equity and some aching backs.

 
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