“…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 adequate sunlight. A smaller sixth bed is reserved for herbs and
flowers, and a beautiful bird bath crafted by artist-gardener Isabelle
Chapman. During the first ten years, garden volunteers, student
visitors and service groups were instructed – and inspired – by Sr.
Clement Johnson, botanist and resident expert.
Since Sr. Clement’s death in 2004, volunteers have remained dedicated,
and garden leadership excellent, first with Debbie Leflar, and currently
with Pilar Hernandez. Service groups continue to visit and help. Each
Tuesday morning, the gardeners are nourished by friendship and
sharing, by garden tending and planting. We have garden “regulars”
who have been with us for many years, forming a garden community
whose members support one another in moments of crisis and who
celebrate special times.
Addition of tree mulch to the garden surfaces further enhances the
beauty of our garden space and makes it a pleasant work area rain or
shine. We are annually assisted with the fall mulching by a service
group from Cristo Rey Jesuit Prep. The seasonal beauty of the garden
with its seating area is always restful and refreshing. It really never
is all work and no play!
From the outset, the Dominican Sisters’ garden has been affiliated
with Urban Harvest. Many hear about the garden through Urban
Harvest, and of course, we have friends! Our annual produce now
reaches over 1,300 pounds.
The garden offers support for neighbors in need. Produce is taken
to Manna House, a cooperative Third Ward ministry of several nearby
congregations, also to Star of Hope at its location on Reed Road.
As of April 2020, we proudly present a Silver Anniversary garden!
It is a place of tranquil beauty, with monarch butterflies and seasonal
flowers in addition to four successful seasons of produce.
From the Garden
May - June, 2020
# 205.5 tomatoes
# 55 peppers
# 39 squash
# 36 onions
# 14 eggplant
# 14 cucumbers
# 2 okra
# .75 Swiss chard
# .75 kale
# .5 green beans
Donations to Star of Hope,
St. James Episcopal, Villa
2020 Mid-year: #803.50
(L to R) Sr. Heloise with garden leader, 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.