Giving Garden helps Catholic parishes grow Blessings

Nobody likes to count the pounds around Thanksgiving, but at St. Pius X and St. Mary of the Assumption Pastorate in Baltimore, Maryland, it can actually be inspiring. 

Volunteers in the pastorate’s Giving Garden ministry harvested and delivered 1,150 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to a local food bank in 2021, thanks in part to a grant from Catholic Climate Covenant. Their 2021 harvest was nearly double that of 2019 — talk about your green thumbs!   

Logging 400 volunteer hours, young families harvested sweet potatoes and squash, volunteers watered the crops and tended pollinator beds, and father-and-son duos delivered parsley and radishes to food pantries. In 2019, the parish logged 300 volunteer hours and delivered more than 600 pounds of produce.  

Food insecurity can be an issue in communities in and around Towson, Maryland, parishioners report, and fresh fruits and vegetables can be particularly scarce. The harvest is donated to a food pantry that serves as a ministry of GEDCO, an ecumencial charity group that aims to offer a dignified model of service by allowing clients to choose the food they prefer.

The food pantry program, called CARES, serves some 1,300 families a year. Based on client requests for fresh fruit, The Giving Garden at St. Pius X and St. Mary of the Assumption Pastorate plans to plant twenty blueberry bushes next year.

In addition to harvesting their own crops, Catholic volunteers built raised-bed gardens for three CARES clients, lending their farming expertise during the summer. 

With Laudato Si’ gardens springing up at parishes across the country, the Giving Garden provides an early glimpse — and inspiring vision — of a sustainable future in which Catholic parishes combat food insecurity by providing their surrounding communities with nourishing fruits and vegetables grown on their own soil.

We thank all the volunteers at St. Pius X and St. Mary of the Assumption Pastorate, for showing us all a great — and delicious — way to give this Thanksgiving.

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