"...You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails." Isaiah 58:11
The Dominican Sisters' Ecology Committee had a dream in the Fall of 1994 - the dream of using a small plot of the motherhouse grounds for a vegetable garden. This was to be a very special garden, one that would give witness to our commitment to live and act in an ecologically responsible manner. With study and labor, the dream came alive! Our garden goals are two-fold; donation of organic garden produce to help those in need, and education to assist others with the practice of organic gardening in their local areas.
The garden has five beds, each 5 feet wide and 40 feet long, positioned for adequte sunlight. A smaller sixth bed is reserved for several fruit trees, for herbs and flowers and a beautiful bird-bath crafted by artist-gardener, Isabelle Chapman. During the first ten years, garden volunteers, volunteer groups, student visitors and service groups were instructed - and inspired - by Sr. Clement Johnson, botanist and resident expert.
Since Sr. Clement's death in 2004, wonderful volunteers have remained faithful! Student and service groups continue to visit, to help and to learn. Each Tuesday morning, the gardeners are nourished by friendship and sharing, by garden tending and planting. Actually, we have garden "regulars" who have been with us over months and years, forming a little garden community whose members support one another in moments of crisis and celebrate special times. Our garden seating area and the simple seasonal beauty of the garden is always restful and refreshing, so it really never is all work and no play!
From the outset, the Dominican Sisters' garden has been affiliated with Urban Harvest. We were on the first Urban Harvest Garden Tour in 1996. Produce from our garden averages 1,000 pounds each year. Many hear about the garden through Urban Harvest, and of course, we have friends!
Our garden continues to be financed by donations, and we are deeply grateful to the garden donors! In April of 2015, the Dominican Sisters' Community Garden reached its 20th anniversary. The garden is now a place of tranquil beauty with seasonal plants and flowers, seating and wind chimes.
It continues to offer support for neighbors in need. Produce has been taken to Manna House, a cooperative Third Ward ministry of seven religious congregations near the Dominican motherhouse, also to nearby Star of Hope Transitional Center and, on occasion to Loaves and Fisher, and other food ministries. We have had many adventures: no irrigation at the outset, and an occasional hard winter freeze. Only strategic watchfulness has protected plentiful tomatocrops from the birds and our tender produce from the rabbits. We have very little victory to report over the squirrels. However, rabbit munching was halted with the installation of a rabbit-proof fence in 2005. The fence installation is a major adventure story!
Subsequent addition of tree mulch further enhanced the beauty of our garden space and has made it a pleasant work area rain or shine.
From the Garden
# 84.50 onions
to Star of Hope
and Manna House
(L to R) Sister Heloise with
Community Gardener - Pilar Hernandez
The 2012 Urban Harvest Nutgrass Roots Award was presented to the Dominican Sisters Garden. This award is presented to community gardens that are as tenacious as nutgrass, gardens that have overcome many obstacles such as changing leadership, rabbits, broken water systems, Houston weather, opinionated gardeners and much more. Through sheer determination and effort, they have established themselves as gardens of excellence and sustainability.
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