St. Joseph Garden Ministry has developed a nearly 5,000 square foot produce garden on the front lawn of the church.
Our garden ministry developed in response to a county-wide listening process done in 2022. Catholic Charities led this process for all the churches in Mahoning County. One of the most pressing needs discovered in the listening process was food insecurity. This means that many families in our county struggle to access healthy food for their daily meals.
St. Joseph parish is blessed with an abundance of tillable land. Fr. Fedor and the study team thought that we could devote some of our land to food production to help address the needs of these struggling families. And that became our purpose. The garden ministry exists to help feed hungry families in Mahoning County. We currently distribute the produce through organizations that have it as their mission to provide food for families in need. The first two organizations we are working with are Ursuline Ministries Immigrant Outreach that does a weekly food distribution and Immaculate Heart of Mary Food Pantry that does a monthly food distribution. Immaculate Heart of Mary is the sister parish of St. Joseph.
Inspired by the Catholic Social Teaching theme of Caring for God’s Creation, we are growing vegetables, berries, and herbs without the use of chemical pesticides. This is safer for the soil and for those who eat the produce.
With the help of some master gardeners, we developed a garden plan and organized a group of parishioners to prepare the soil and plant the garden. Generous parishioners donated funds to pay for the seeds, plants, and other items we needed to get started. We still have plans for a fence and compost bins.
There are so many ways parishioners can become involved in this project. We have workdays that we promote through emails, on Facebook, and on Instagram.
The garden is a pattern of raised beds and worn paths. We welcome all parishioners of all ages to walk on the paths of the garden as often as you’d like. The foot traffic will help keep the weeds down in the paths. We only ask that you not walk on the raised beds and that you don’t pick the produce.
The garden is also a spiritual opportunity. Walking the paths of the garden can be a meditative experience. Being aware that you are in the midst of a diverse and abundant living environment can offer unique insights into the life of God among us. We invite everyone to use the garden as an opportunity for spiritual practice whether you are tending the crops or just strolling the paths.