Over the last few weeks, volunteers braved the rain to complete the annual potato harvest at the community garden located behind St. Joseph’s Parish and Elementary School. At a total of 1,850 pounds, this year’s yield was just shy of a ton.
The produce from the Masithuthu Garden is donated to the 9-10 Club Soup Kitchen at St. Andrew’s Cathedral downtown and the Social Concern Office of Saint Vincent de Paul. The project began five years ago when children at the school’s World Food Day heard that it might be better to grow potatoes rather than grass. The idea blossomed into a school-home-parish effort to support food security in Victoria. All students at St. Joseph's Elementary plant the seeds, while parents and parishioners care for them over the summer months.
The garden is named in honour of the parish partnership with a diocesan program in Mariannhill, South Africa, known as the Masithuthukisane Organic Food Cooperative. This program works to educate locals on the benefits of growing sustainable produce to share among their own communities. The theme of this year’s World Food Day – Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together – reminds us too of the importance of connecting and protecting through food: “Food is the essence of life and the bedrock of our cultures and communities. Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is and will continue to be an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities, who are hit hardest by the pandemic and resulting economic shocks”.
The Masithuthu Garden initiative also coincided with the release of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si', which reminded us of our responsibilities as stewards of all creation. We thank the community of St. Joseph’s for their example in making healthy food relationships and sustainable habits a part of their outreach and for continuing to do so during this year’s challenges.
Like World Food Day, the Bishop’s Appeal is a Horizon of Hope for the entire Diocesan community. Fr. William Hann has shared his thoughts with the parishioners of Holy Cross and St. Patrick’s, Victoria in the video here.