We share the bounty of our harvest with Share The Harvest, our volunteers, donors, and Parish staff.

Share the Harvest is a Ministry that shares fresh fruits, herbs and veggies with local food banks. The produce is typically grown in private home gardens. Home gardeners bring unneeded produce to church on Sunday's, where it is picked up for distribution to a local food bank. Please contact Sallie (gardenministry@aim.com) if you want to become a grower at your own home. Share The Harvest will supply free seeds/seedlings to its growers.

The St. Mary Garden Ministry is gratefully accepting donations to continue our work. We will thank you donation by sharing in the bounty of our harvest with our donors. 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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Dear Friends,

The season is winding down a bit for The Garden of Eden, but we are still harvesting various types of herbs and Swiss Chard. All of our crops this season have been shared with Share The Harvest, an ecumenical ministry that shares home grown produce with food pantries that accept fresh produce.

This season, our partners at Share The Harvest are giving us seeds to plant a "cover crop" in our garden beds. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a cover crop is a crop planted in the fall primarily to manage soil erosion, soil fertility and soil quality. Some examples of cover crops are: clovers, winter rye, buckwheat, and oats. Instead of picking the crop when it is ready, we wait until spring and then till the cover crop back into the soil. Some of the cover crops fix nitrogen, so they are an natural fertilizer. Some of the cover crops flower and therefore attract beneficial pollinators. This is the first time I am planting a cover crop, so if you want to help, please contact me.

I have been growing Lemon Balm from seed at my home garden and planted it in The Garden of Eden as part of my "permaculture" program. Permaculture is permanent agriculture, meaning that the particular plant will return year after year. Lemon Balm is a member of the Mint family, although it smells like a freshly cut lemon. It is tough, it spreads (in a good way) and is delicious eaten as tea (fresh or dried leaves), used for aromatherapy, and mixed in with sugar to flavor it.

I also planted some Mint from my own garden into the Garden of Eden. It too, will spread and return year after year.

If anyone has any Rhubarb that can be shared, I will be happy to accept it for planting in The Garden of Eden.

There is still plenty to do in the garden and we still need $$ donations, so if you are inclined to help in any way, please contact me.



Thursday, July 26, 2018

Dear Friends,

Our bush and pole beans are yielding heavily!! I desperately need help picking them and the other vegetables and herbs we are growing for Share The Harvest's food pantries. I pick on Sunday afternoons and Monday mornings. If you can help, please let me know.

I especially need help on August 12 through the morning of August 13. I cannot pick those days due to a family engagement. If the beans don't get picked, they will be wasted. The hungry folks who need the food pantry food to sustain them are counting on us. Please contact me for details on how you can help. Harvesting food for the poor and hungry is one of the corporeal works of mercy.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dear Friends,

If you stop by for a look at The Garden of Eden, here's what you will see growing:

1. Bush and pole beans (which are now flowering).
2. Lavender (flowering now)
3. Rhubarb
4. Lemon Thyme
5. German and English Thyme
6. Common Sage
7. Curly and Italian Parsley
8. Purple and Garlic Chives
9. Blueberry bushes
10. Honeyberry bushes
11. Grapes on the arbors
12. Rosemary
13. Oregano
14. Dill
15. Basil
16. Marjoram
17. Mint

18. Lots of perennial flowers are in bloom along the "flower fence" that surrounds The Garden of Eden. They attract beneficial pollinator bugs. Look for Shasta Daisy, Bee Balm, Stella d' Oro Daylily, and Larkspur.

At the east side of the St. Mary rectory, you can see more Blueberry bushes, a Raspberry bush, Swiss Chard and more Basil in pots.

At our Garden of Eden Annex at Bob G.'s house (his entire back yard garden is being grown for Share The Harvest food pantries), we also have Gotham Greens lettuces, Tomatoes, Pole Beans, Chili and Jalapeno Peppers, Sorrel, Mint, Dill, Swiss Chard and Purple Chives.

The bounty of our harvest is shared with Share The Harvest, an inter-denominational ministry that shares fresh, home-grown produce with a variety of local food pantries.

Please consider sharing your own extra, home-grown produce by bringing it on Sundays to mass. Deliver it to the basket at the top of the stairs inside the elevator entrance. It is picked up after the 11:30 a.m. mass is over.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Dear Friends,

I wish I could still do it, but I no longer have time to plant and take care of the vegetable garden portion of the St. Mary School PreSchool garden (the raised garden bed immediately against the south wall of the school at its main entrance. 

Would someone out there in the St. Mary Parish community please consider taking care of this portion of the St. Mary grounds for the entire 2018 season? Based on my previous experience, a volunteer should expect to spend about 5-10 hours per week planting, weeding, watering and harvesting. The new volunteers will have to also raise funds for supplies. A group of volunteers makes the work easier, quicker and more fun. 

If you are interested, please contact Mrs. Rasinski, the St. Mary School Principal directly. 

I will continue to take care of the flower portion of the PreSchool garden. However, if a volunteer or team of volunteers wants to help in this area, I would be grateful. 


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dear Friends,

We now have a hybrid underground/drip hose watering system in The Garden of Eden. May I brag for a moment and mention that my husband designed the system? Now we can water 6 veggie beds at once using less water, spending less time, watering more efficiently and saving money for our church budget. Stop by and take a look any time. But if you want me to explain how the system works, please volunteer with us on any Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

We are also fully planted: New blueberry bushes are in. Many types of radish seeds and swiss chard varieties are in the ground. So are curly parsley, flat leaf parsley, rosemary, German thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, and rhubarb are growing nicely. I am particularly enthused about the purple podded and yellow podded peas that are winding their way around the tuteurs. All the apple trees survived the winter.

Stop by and see our new fencing. I thought the rabbits needed to go on a diet after they ate so much swiss chard last season. It is pretty safe to assume they will be moving on to a new garden once they see the roadblocks we built.

Special thanks to the St. Mary LEAD students, who are still exuberantly volunteering to pick up trash after school. They are making a beautiful difference in our church's outdoor environment.

Not to be outdone, St. Ignatius and Fenwick students have volunteered too with some heavy digging. We can use more help every week from our Catholic High School communities. Keep it coming!

See you in the garden.
P.S. If anyone has any small plastic snakes to share, we need 4 to hang in our apple trees.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank the St. Mary School LEAD students who have been enthusiastically volunteering to pick up garbage around the Garden of Eden and the parking lot. It's astonishing how much garbage there is and how much new garbage there is every day. I can't think of a good excuse WHY there is so much garbage every day. There is no way to justify the amounts. So I am sending out a plea to everyone who thinks the garbage they throw on the ground will just vaporize...PLEASE DON'T DO IT!!!! There is a garbage can at the Parish Center entrance. USE IT!!!!

Meanwhile, thank you to the parents of the LEAD students who are doing such a fine job of raising such wonderful children who volunteer with such open and generous hearts. I salute you.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring! If you are curious about what vegetables the St. Mary Garden Ministry will be planting this season, here's what you need to know:

For our early spring crops, we are planting: Little Snowpea White, Golden Sweet Snow Pea (the seeds were sourced in India. How cool is that?), Sugar Magnolia (the peas are green, but the pods are purple), Electric Neon Blend Swiss Chard, Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard, Golden Swiss Chard, Starburst Radish, Pearl Radish, Easter Egg II Radish, French Breakfast Radish, Red Head Radish, Sweet Baby Daikon Radish, Butter Crunch Lettuce Blend, Super Gourmet Salad Blend.

All of the above seed varieties are from Territorial Seed Company. www.territorialseed.com.

We are a few days behind in planting for two good reasons. First, we have had a few "monsoons" sweep through our area. So it's been a bit messy for digging and planting. The other reason is that my wonderful husband, Mark designed and engineered an ingenious combination underground/drip hose watering system. We have to install it before we can seed each bed. The new drip system will save precious and expensive water as well as time for our volunteer watering crew. Stop by and see it soon.

As always, we need volunteers, both adult and students. We offer service hours for 6th, 7th and 8th grade St. Mary School and area Catholic high school students. Younger children are always welcome if they bring a parent to supervise.