As active participants in social justice causes, many Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York have taken on environmental ministry—Sister Didi Madden, O.P. is one of them.
Sister Didi manages Harmony Farm in Goshen, New York where she helps run the Harmony Farm CSA.
CSA stands for Community-supported Agriculture. While there are many ways to operate a CSA program, one popular model is to offer crop subscriptions to the public. Community members pay a seasonal or annual fee to receive whatever the farm harvests weekly, for example.
CSAs have positive environmental impacts—relying on local food sources decreases the need for air-polluting trucks to bring crops from thousands of miles away.
The connection between people and their food has been practically nonexistent recently in the United States as more processed items come onto the market.
Sister Didi hopes that the CSA program will help people develop a connection between their food and themselves, and make them more aware of the “earth processes” that God is involved in.
At the Motherhouse in Blauvelt, Sister Didi and Sister Ellenrita Purcaro, O.P. are working to help the Sisters develop a connection to their food as well with a grow bag garden.
A grow bag is essentially a small, self-contained garden. Made from cloth, hemp, or plastic, a grow bag is filled with soil and houses seeds as they germinate.
Once the grow bags arrive in a few weeks, the Sisters will gather together to put soil in them and plant the seeds of tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and more.
There will be minimal upkeep required of the Sisters once this initial work is done, as there will be a self-watering system in place.
The vegetables harvested will be used in the kitchen at the Motherhouse. Thus, in its own way, the grow bag garden resembles a CSA program, because the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York community helps create the food they eat.
Sister Didi hopes to get everyone involved with the garden in one way or another. The space for the garden is right next to a ground-level elevator, so Sisters in wheelchairs will be able to access the garden.
Maria Bohan is a Volunteer for the Communications and Development Office at the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York. She is a student at Bryn Mawr College majoring in English and a graduate of Pearl River High School.