The Holy Cross gardening season has begun - join us!

Parish garden project helps Catholic Charities - and Holy Cross families

This past Sunday – the first Sunday of March – about a dozen of the parish’s youth from ages five into the teens joined five adults for the first gardening day of the 2016 season. The seeds were blessed by Deacon Phil and then the work began.

Photo of Holy Cross Community Garden at the start of the 2016 seasonAfter about three hours, the majority of the raised beds had been prepared and planted with kale and cabbage starters, plus radish, lettuce, spinach, pea, parsnip, beet and other seeds. These are all ‘cold season’ plants that won’t get hurt if the temperatures tumble a bit before we settle into real spring weather.

The compost pile was turned and ‘finished’ compost was blended into existing garden beds. Two ‘starter trays’ were planted with more than 100 seeds – tomatoes, peppers and other seeds that will be transplanted into the garden when the weather stabilizes later this spring. Those seeded trays are now secured in a plastic greenhouse that had been donated to the garden project last year; the seeds should be sprouting within a week or so.

The garden will also be home to several beds of cutting flowers for use at Mass and church functions.

Who’s a Holy Cross gardener?

Anyone! Even you! Several new households joined the project this year, and more are welcome to join the fun – for an hour or two or the entire season – which last year finally wrapped up in December. We had a member of the Durham community rent a plot last summer; she also helped with the ‘sharing beds – the beds that grow produce destined for Catholic Charities.

Gardening is a bit of work, of course, but it’s also a great way to get some fresh air, quiet time for yourself or together time with your kids, exercise, Vitamin D, get to know others, and grow veggies for your dinners!

You may be thinking, “I don’t know anything about gardening, so what can I do?” No worries. Deacon Phil and Anna Rzewnicki, garden coordinator, have been gardening for decades and will be glad to help you find your way from plant to produce. 

A few of the returning gardeners are also great pros, and one of them loves to build structures for climbing veggies like tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers and more. So, if you prefer working with wood, you’re more than welcome to lend a hand. We could use a few simple benches to sit on during a break. We could also use some help putting up a post for our bluebird house.

Interested? Send a note to the Holy Cross Community Garden Coordinator or ask for Anna or Deacon Phil before or after Mass.

What’s this all about?

The Holy Cross Community Garden got its start in 2013 with two 4 ft. x 8 ft. raised beds as a project within the parish’s Evangelization and Outreach Ministry. Its purpose: to grow produce primarily for Catholic Charites in Durham. Why? Because Catholic Charities’ staff is focused on helping the clients they serve to provide healthy meals for their families. That requires fresh produce, which is expensive and not typically included in the food supplies that are donated to the Catholic Charities office. The Holy Cross garden was established to help remedy that. Last summer, the garden provided fresh-picked vegetables week after week, from spring through late fall.

The garden grew to eight raised beds in 2014, about a dozen in 2015, and will be adding more this year. Participation by parishioners has also been growing, with new households and individuals joining the project each season. Some help get the garden started in the spring, others help with cleanup in the late fall, or help with construction garden beds or structures, with the harvest or delivering produce to the Catholic Charities office on Tuesdays, or stop by to water during dry spells.

Several have rented a garden plot so they can grow produce for their home use and help with the sharing garden as well. Others just volunteer in the main garden.

Last year, a family donated an electric fence – which was later installed by a Boy Scout troop as part of an Eagle Scout project. The fence is now helping to help keep deer out of the garden.

This year, the parish garden also will make some produce available to those in the parish who would benefit from it. But all are welcome to help make the garden a success.

So now … join us! Contact Anna Rzewnicki.


Tags: Community Garden, parish garden, Holy Cross Catholic Church

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