We share the bounty of our harvest with our volunteers, donors, Parish staff and School teachers

Share the Harvest is a Ministry that shares fresh fruits and veggies with local food banks. The fruits and veggies are grown in private home gardens. Home gardeners brings extra unneeded produce to church on Sunday's, where it is picked up for distribution to a local food bank. Please contact Share the Harvest at gardenministry@aim.com for further information.

The St. Mary Garden Ministry is gratefully accepting donations in $7.50 increments. We will thank you donation by offering the gift of one share in The Garden of Eden. Donate $15.00;receive 2 shares. The more you donate, the more shares you will receive. Please send check or cash to St. Mary Garden Ministry, c/o St. Mary Church, 196 Herrick Road, Riverside, IL 60546. Include your e-mail address so we can contact you when we are ready to share the bounty of our harvest.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Dear Friends,

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." If anyone can tell me who once said that, you will receive a free Saturday share from The Garden of Eden. Hint: if you went to church today, you will know who said it. Write to me at gardenministry@aim.com.

Truly, we need gardeners who can help just a little or a lot. We need volunteers to pick our veggies on Saturdays in The Garden of Eden. As you know, we donate practically all of the bounty of our harvest to Share The Harvest, a ministry that shares home-grown food with food pantries in the western suburbs. Last week, we didn't have enough volunteers so much or our produce was left uncut and unused in our gardens. What a pity. So many more less fortunate people could have benefitted from our naturally, locally grown produce. Let's pray for more volunteers. Anyone of any age and physical ability can help. If you are younger than 6th grade, however, please bring a parent as I can't supervise our very young folks.

So far, we have harvested: lettuce, swiss chard, kale, chives, garlic chives, oregano, mint, hot peppers, basil, italian parsley, curly parsley, sage, and radishes.

Please know that all of our volunteers go home with freshly picked veggies as our thank you gift. Your other thank you gift is knowing that you have performed a corporal work of mercy (feed the hungry).

The preschool garden has finally been put back to productive use. We are growing tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, okra, pumpkins, raspberries, blackberries, currants, basil and chives. And weeds, plenty of weeds! So for those of you who cherish memories of your children as St Mary preschool students (or perhaps your own time as a preschool student), please help us weed and water this wonderful garden. We also need a crew to weed the flower portion of the preschool garden. It has been overtaken with a perennial ribbon grass. This requires very hard labor. I don't want to sugar coat my plea. But as we in the Garden Ministry like to joke, this kind of volunteering paves a straight path right to Heaven for those willing to do the work. Are you up for it? Then contact me at gardenministry@aim.com. I will show you what needs to be done.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe 4th of July. Let's honor the founding fathers and mothers who gave birth to this great nation and the great military men and women, past and present, who keep us free.

Sallie Boge

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear Friends,

I have wonderful news...

Share The Harvest, the inter-denominational ministry started by the amazing and generous Rev. Linda W., has awarded a $400.00 growing grant to our St. Mary Garden Ministry! Our only instructions are that we should spend the funds on food-producing plants, especially plants we have not yet grown and then share back with the food pantries that Share The Harvest supplies. We are thrilled and grateful for this opportunity.

Never one to let money burn a hole in my pocket, I have spent much of the funding already. Here is what I bought: 9 high bush blueberry plants (Kabluey, Semi-dwarf Northland, Patriot, Jersey, Healthy Rubel, Bluecrop, Chandler and Elizabeth), 3 currant bushes (Pink Champagne, Black Consort and Redlake), 2 gooseberry bushes (Red and Pixwell), 2 Honeyberry bushes, 11 thornless blackberry bushes (Triple Crown and Ouachita), and 12 raspberry canes (3 each of Fall Gold, Heritage, Killarney and Jewel).

I tried to be as frugal as humanely possible with the money. So here are my money-saving tips if you want to grow what we are growing this season: I used Gurney's for most of the plants. They have a coupon right now for 1/2 off when you buy $50, $100 or $200 worth of plants. For some of the plants, I used Burpee. Right now Burpee is offering free shipping on any size order. Also, they are offering 20% off if you buy three different fruit offers. Plus , they threw in a free turkey fig plant and one package of pollinator garden seeds. I practically made money on these deals!!! Not really, of course, but it made shopping much more fun by really getting our money's worth.

To accommodate some of the new plants, we will be "renting" some garden space at St. Mary's preschool garden, which we will do our best to help maintain this season. I hope the little tykes love seeing the new fruiting bushes and sharing the bounty of our harvest with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Please stop by on Saturday, April 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. when it will FINALLY be warm again, to garden with our Ministry. We need lots of help at this time and will find a job suited to your experience and physical abilities.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dear Friends,

You gotta love global warming! If my memory serves me correctly, our relatively mild winter has sped up the start to our 2016 gardening season. Our regular and garlic chives are ready for their first cutting. The rhubarb is poking red heads through the soil and I even see some green on our lavender plants. The strawberry plants have multiplied and are forming a green carpet around The Garden of Eden.

In short, we need volunteers a bit sooner than usual. So please join us every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for digging, weeding and planting of vegetable seeds.

Actually, I have already started because I just couldn't wait to get out in the garden...Radish seedlings are growing well under plastic cloches along the east entrance to the rectory. Our newest addition to our fruit "orchard", blueberry bushes, are also planted and greening up in containers along with the radishes. Our generous donors allowed me to purchase three different types of short blueberry bushes suitable for container growing.  If I close my eyes, I can just imagine how wonderful blueberry pancakes will taste later this season. Mmmmmm.

This Saturday, we will plant snow and snap peas and some lettuces. I chose a lot of Butter lettuce varieties this year because my family and I have been enjoying Gotham Greens Butter lettuce. I am getting off on a tangent here, but this brand is well worth it. The company started in New York City. Hence the name "Gotham Greens". The company uses the roof space of existing warehouse buildings and builds a greenhouse facility on top. The veggies are grown using hydroponic technology. The water they use is recycled. They employ integrated pest management, use no herbicides, hand-harvest and pack, promise non-GMO seeds, and can get the produce from the greenhouse to the table within hours. They built a greenhouse in the Pullman District of Chicago. How's that for locally grown? Well, St. Mary does not have a greenhouse , but we will be planting lettuces that I predict will taste every bit as good as Gotham Greens. We too, use non-GMO seeds, use no chemical herbicides or pesticides, hand-harvest and pack, and can get the freshly picked greens to your home in...minutes!

Looking forward to seeing you in the garden soon.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dear Friends,

Sorry about the abrupt end to my previous post. I am having trouble with this web site. So if you are reading this post for the first time, please scroll back one post so you can see what vegetables we will be growing in 2016. I made it to #11, so this post will start on #12:

12. Pole beans "Royal Burgundy", "Golden  Gate",  "Rattlesnake",  "Kentucky Wonder", "Sunset", "Red Noodle".

13. Carrots "Yaya" and "Tonda di Pariga".

14. Herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary "Arp" which is listed as perennial and can often withstand our Chicago winters, chives, garlic chives, Italian parsley, curly parsley, lavender, sage, basil "Mammoth Sweet".

15. Rhubarb.

16. Lettuces "Optima", "Drunken Woman Frizzled", "Buttercrunch", "Carmona", "Mottistone", "Encino", "Revolution", "Mascara", "Red Sails", "Simpson Elite", "Flashy Trout's Back", "Valmaine". Again, we are ordering varieties that you can't get in a grocery store. Another goal is to plant the most heat-tolerant varieties to so the lettuce doesn't bolt too soon with our unpredictable Chicago weather that can go from too cold to too hot rather quickly.

17. We will fill in with bush beans after the early crops finish.

So we encourage and invite you to garden with us every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to about 12:30
p.m. starting in mid to late March depending on the weather. Email me at gardenministry@aim.om if you want to work on a special, independent project at another day or time.

Dear Friends,

I hope you are enjoying a happy and healthy New Year.

The Garden Ministry would like to thank all of our tireless adult and student volunteers who helped grow our biggest crop ever of fruit and vegetables that were shared with Share The Harvest, our Parish staff, donors and volunteers. You all made a big difference!

Now we set our sights on a successful 2016 gardening season. I just placed the seed and plant order with Territorial Seed Company. We like this company because I think the pricing is pretty fair, the variety is abundant and the commitment of the owners and employees to organic/natural farming is strong. So here is what we ordered:

1. The Indigo series of tomatoes, "Rose", "Cream", "Cherry Drops", "Kumquat", "Blueberries", "Paruche", "Blue Beauty".
2. Other tomato plants, such as, "Pineapple", " Taxi", "Gill's All Purpose", "Ananas Noire", "Japanese Trifele Black".

If you look these up on the www.territorialseed.com web site, you will see that the Indigo series was bred for unusual color, crazy-good taste and higher levels of anthocyanin, which is a naturally-occurring antioxidant that is found in blueberries. As for the other tomato varieties, my objective was to choose unusual colors and flavored that you just can't find in the grocery store.

3. Joy Choi (a type of Pac Choi). This all-season -long type of Chinese cabbage is full of soluble fiber, antioxidants and almost negligible calorie content. You can practically burn calories buy eating it. You can use it in a stir fry or uncooked in salads.

4. Kale. We will be growing the same red-blend as last season.

5. Brussels Sprouts "Rubin's". I have been wanting to grow Brussels sprouts ever since I saw how sculptural the plant looks in a grades. It looks like a piece of modern art to me. Plus it is space-saving since it grows vertically, so there is still room for another crop underneath. The variety we will be growing is purple. You definitely cannot find it in a grocery store!

6. Radishes "French Breakfast".

7. Swiss Chard. We were so successful with chard last year, we got sick of it. In our experience, there is no crop we have grown that is so disease-resistant and gives us more bang for out money and effort than chard. You can use it fresh in salads or sauté it with garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper instead of spinach. We will be growing "Golden" , Lyon" and "Neon Lights".

8. Okra "Jambalaya" and "Red Burgundy". Okra is not just for southern climates with these new short-season varieties. My husband makes a fantastic gumbo, so I can't wait to taste it with fresh, locally grown okra instead of the frozen stuff.

9. Snap and Snow peas.

10. Cucumbers "Lemon".

11. Pole Beans "

Thursday, July 23, 2015

These Monarda (otherwise known as Bee Balm) are an ingredient in Earl Grey tea. During the Revolutionary War, when the American colonies wanted to protest British tea, "Patriot Tea" was brewed using only Monarda leaves. You can also use the red petals as an ingredient in your green salad. These particular Monarda plants were donated by Bernie N.
Our beautiful Easter lilies that were on the Easter altar have been re-purposed and planted in the Garden of Eden. They are planted among Larkspur.
This is a striped zucchini that was developed to be grown in pots.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dear Friends, The Garden of Eden is producing much faster than we can cut the bumper crop of veggies, fruit and herbs. We need more volunteers to cut veggies to keep up! Email me at gardenministry@aim.com if you are able to cut on Saturdays or another day. We have been donating a lot of produce to Share The Harvest, an ecumenical ministry that shares home-grown produce with local food banks. Linda W., the Ministry who founded this wonderful network of volunteers writes to us to tell how much our Garden of Eden donations are appreciated. Read more below: Dear Wonderful Volunteers at the Garden of Eden Project! Thank you for ALL the gifts of greens and other produce that you have shared so far this season! The guests served by the food pantry at St. Francis Xavier in LaGrange are very grateful for your hard work and generous giving. Thank you for making another season's commitment to share what you grow via Grace Seeds Ministry's Share The Harvest project. We are so grateful to Sallie, to each volunteer and to Michele B. (St. Mary's Share The Harvest Liaison) for connecting us to what you grow and harvest. God bless your growing as the season continues! Your ministry is a gift to so many-including the hundreds and hundreds of guests at the food pantry who will eat more healthy meals this growing season-thanks to you! Gratefully! Linda W. graceseedsministry@gmail.com Note from Sallie: Feeding the hungry is a corporeal work of mercy. May I just say that it doesn't feel like "hard work" while we are digging, weeding and cutting in the Garden of Eden. It just feels peaceful and worthwhile, with the added bonus that we are helping others. Come join us. You will feel great too!