Consistent with reverence for the Earth is allowing it to remain in its pristine state without pesticides and pollutants. To learn and to teach how to grow crops organically, we have established an Organic Garden on the Brentwood grounds. We work a natural garden in keeping with our belief that all of God’s creation are sacred and should be treated with respect and care.
One way we can do this is to counter the industrial agricultural industry which grows monocultures of soy, corn, wheat, etc. These industrial farmers use chemical (petroleum based) fertilizers and pesticides. Both of these ultimately deplete the soil of its natural life. Lifeless soil tends to erode easily and of course requires ever more chemicals.
We engage in diversified gardening as a model of sound, natural gardening, planting a variety of crops, rotating them regularly, and using the spent plants, weeds, grass and leaves (all rich in nutrients) to fertilize the soil
. Nothing is wasted. Our natural garden is a good example of sustainability. As a bonus, diversified gardening attracts very few harmful insects and those that do come are quickly repelled by the beneficial insects that are attracted to our flowers.Gardening in this manner keeps ever before our eyes the wonders of God’s creation: the good relationships and cooperation between the plants and animal life; the diverse dying and rising within a vegetable garden, and the beauty of the plants, flowers and trees.(2013)
Our garden area has expanded over the past few years with the addition of chickens, rabbit sand goats. The expansion continues this year with the addition of a Community Garden. We have invited a few interested people to use some of our space to grow their own vegetables. Each person, or family will cultivate a plot sufficient to provide enough vegetables for their consumption throughout the growing season. This first season we will provide natural compost, seedlings and seeds in addition to instruction in growing food naturally. The cost is $10.00 per plot.
Our expansion continues with the conversion of a small plot of grass to a field of wheat. The wheat will be interplanted with red clover which is a good source of nectar for honey bees and other pollinators. We have numerous ideas for the wheat but we know our chickens would be very happy to share in the harvest.
Click to open The Garden Brochure:
Click to view video: We Are Dust of the Earth
New Root Cellar
Three of our volunteers have created an interesting and beautiful looking root cellar in our barn. The root cellar maintains a perfect temperature for storing root vegetables and the outer walls display a beautiful painting of our little garden. Many, many thanks to Ernie Herrington and Lis and Rich Dicce
Thoughts from the Garden
I haven’t been at the garden much lately. I haven’t fed the chickens or given the goats fresh water. I haven’t collected the eggs, and I haven’t started the onion seeds to prepare for spring planting. The daily tasks that composed my past several winters have vanished from my life. I feel like I’m in exile. Miles away, I stand beneath naked oaks, their blankets of rust brown leaves beneath my feet. I gaze up at the cloud spotted sky, the sun shining coolly from the south. I spot a red-bellied woodpecker exploring around the trunk of a tree. The chill of the air pricks my cheeks and refreshes my lungs. I appreciate the beauty, I feel connected to the life, I am grateful for this moment. I am not, however, in the place where my bones belong. There is an aching in my body and my soul to go home.
My exile, however, is self-imposed. Following the movement of the Spirit, living my ‘yes’ to the invitation to God’s deep love, I am like the Israelites in the desert. I am where I am meant to be- in the in-between space, in the unknown, in the fog, in the comma, in the breath, in the cocoon – and I am free. The upheaval from my life, though, drops me at the feet of those who have been ripped away from their lives and their homes. Those whose desert time is not a ‘yes’ to an invitation to love, but an escape from war, violence, the effects of climate change, hunger, oppression, poverty, fear. ‘Wash their feet,’ I hear, ‘wash their feet.’
I think of our country, then. I feel as though I am in exile here too, though I am still here. In the midst of the divisiveness that seems stronger and wider every moment, I find myself engaging with people from opposing sides of every issue. I wonder when abstract opinions and perspectives (my own included) got louder than tangible stories and flesh and blood people. In this atmosphere of either/or, of right/left, of black/white, of us/them, of two separate and distinct sides, I am a stranger. I live in the place of one, of both/and, of gray, and that place is harder to find among the noise of conviction. As I wander this strange land, deracinated and searching, my roots seek nourishment and find themselves tunneling further and deeper into the Nourisher of all life. My roots graze past other roots seeking the same, and it’s funny how in this soil, every root is unique and intertwined. In this soil, there are no convictions, no sides, there is only Love, and nothing is excluded.
Though I wander this desert of apparent exile, and the path before me has been blown away, I know myself to be ever more deeply rooted in God. My prayer is to live from this rootedness, this oneness, this interconnection. When I feel like a stranger in my own land, may I open myself to every stranger in my midst. When it seems as though I am in exile, may I wash the feet of those who have truly been exiled. As the noise of my own convictions threatens to separate, may I quiet the mouth of these convictions and give them ears and eyes and heart and hands. May my voice speak only the depth of love and compassion that enters through my roots. In this way, perhaps, I will find again that place where my bones belong, and I will belong where I am, and we will know that we are all one.
On a pleasant stroll through the relatively deep snow on the day after a cold, windy snow storm, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the life that surrounded me. Not the life that was visible, but the life buried under the snow. Today my thoughts were focused on the thousands of wild pollinators that were nestled under twigs and branches and leaves, some buried in their nests and hives underground. Soon the warmer weather will arrive and our friends will emerge from their winter hideaways and search for nectar in our meadows of wildflowers, our dandelions and clover and then, graciously feed us by pollinating our early peas and blueberries and strawberries. – on and on. – until we eat our last piece of pumpkin pie. I heard myself say out loud “Thank you, one and all.” Mary Lou Buser, CSJ
Most royal greening verdancy.
Rooted in the sun,
you shine with radiant light.
In this circle of earthly existence
You shine so finely,
It surpasses understanding.
God hugs you,
You are encircled by the arms
Of the mystery of God.
Hildegard of Bingen
A few days ago my friend Alice and I were wandering in the garden when suddenly a group of our chickens stopped their feasting on ground bugs and worms and ran quickly and gathered under a hay gatherer that we have displayed on the lawn. Then we noticed another group of chickens running towards the chicken coop and they quickly congregated under the coop. The black chickens were standing perfectly still in the brush in another area. It was ever so quiet, nothing stirred. We slowly looked around. What caused this chicken spectacle? I finally looked up and saw a red tail hawk perched on a branch high up on the oak tree. Still no motion. Finally, the hawk flew to a distant tree and then on to other hunting grounds. One by one, the chickens emerged from their shelters and continued with their own search for delicious treats.
During that time, I experienced God’s hug and felt encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.
Mary Lou Buser, CSJ
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