The St Patrick’s Community Garden, Guildford, is an initiative started up by Social Justice Group to develop community life in the parish and in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ encyclical.
We thought of combining it with morning tea. It is an event to get people out in the fresh air and digging to grow something beautiful and share the joys and surprises of nurturing a natural space. Along the way, friendships are sustained and a thriving sacred space is taking shape.
Our garden is between the church and presbytery, where people gather to chat and sow seeds, water and plan for future additions to the garden.
Each week, people of all ages show up – children and young families, young couples, middle aged and seniors – share with each other and build their understanding of sustainable living. As Pope Francis explained, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue…” (Laudato Si’, 217).
We have found the soil to be drying out as we approach summer, so Rachel and Ben applied clay breaker and mulch. Soil from our worm farm is slowly being added to improve soil quality too. Kids have lots of fun creating art to decorate the garden and scare away the birds. They have painted wooden lamas in bright colours and miniature scarecrows in bright colours.
In honour of the Bidjigal clan of the Dharug people we planted 2 bush tucker plants on the day we began the garden and they are thriving. Lettuce, silver beet, kale and snow peas are doing well. Blueberries and strawberries are flowering. Cabbage and broccoli are bursting with goodness. Passionfruit vines are about to take off. Flower seedlings are starting to emerge.
Edellaʼs family planted the new plum tree and this tree will be significant for this family with a new baby – due any day now. We are about building community, memories and a care for the earth for generations to come. “What kind of world do we want to leave for those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (Laudato Si’, 160).
“Along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a culture of care which permeates all of society. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social dynamics, we should realise that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.” (Laudato Si’, 231).
The blessings of our community garden are many.
Nicole Austin-Wall is a parishioner of St Patrick’s Parish, Guildford.