Growing Food

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I love growing food. Love. It.  There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than seeing the food I have grown, grace our plates at meal time.  And while this time of year requires a lot of physical demand (Who needs a gym when you are working 6 yards of compost and mulch into the soil?), the rewards are definitely worth the effort.  The perennials are already popping up, and the cold tolerant vegetable seeds are in the ground.  We are not far away, friends.  I can almost taste that strawberry rhubarb crisp now.

But perhaps the most rewarding of growing my own food, is sharing this passion with others.  I have the absolute pleasure of working with the students of Cathedral of St. Peter School in their school garden for the forth growing season.  And as I worked with students last week in the garden, I was reminded of why this project is so very important.  Many have lost their connection to the food they eat.  They view food as coming from the grocery store and have no idea how it is grown, or the work that goes in to growing it.  Working with these students allows them to connect with their food, see how it is grown, and become an active participant in that growth process.  Our garden project enables students to try new foods, and learn about the importance of consuming healthy foods and how that translates into fuel for our bodies and minds.  Most importantly, our school garden work illustrates how to be stewards of God’s creation, and to value and cherish all that the Earth and God provide for us each and every day.

IMG_2542Happy 2016 growing season, friends!

August Action

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There has been a lot of action of late in our gardens.  It is truly at its peak, and despite the near 100-degree temperatures this week, we find ourselves entwined in vines of all sorts, harvesting all this fabulous veg.

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Tomatoes make an appearance at our dinner table each night, for I am not sure there is a better fresh vegetable on earth than a homegrown tomato.  Herbs are being dried each day in order to preserve them for the winter months.  Onions and beans are being diced and then destined for the freezer.  And who could forget our school garden, from which we just reached the 100 pounds donated mark!  Yup, the students of Cathedral of St. Peter School have donated 100 pounds of fresh produce to the Plant a Row for the Hungry program at our local food pantry.

So much wonderful August action in the garden right now.  I hope all of you are finding yourselves in the midst of such garden greatness as well!

First Harvest

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Yesterday was a big day for our school garden project.  The garden was bursting with vegetation, so we decided it would make the perfect day for our first official harvest of the season!  We were able to glean lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, collards, snap peas, beans, beets and carrots from our seven-bed school garden.

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Once the produce was picked, rinsed and sorted, we drove to our local food pantry to drop off our donation.  Along the way, we spoke of the importance of helping those in need for God tells us “to be openhanded toward [our] brothers and toward the poor and needy in [our] land” (Deuteronomy 15:11).

IMG_3465 IMG_3466 If you are interested in donating to the Rock River Valley Food Pantry, visit their web site here.

In Gratitude

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This Monday morning I am grateful for…

~a wonderful vacation to the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  (Lots more to come in tomorrow’s post.)

~those family members and close friends who pitched in to help keep the Fagan suburban homestead running in our absence 🙂

~Downton Abbey.  Oh my.  I have recently discovered this show, and have been devouring the DVDs ever since.  It’s like a great British novel brought to life.  What could be better?

~the leader of our book club for choosing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for our next read.  I am thoroughly enjoying being transported to the isle of Guernsey in the 1940’s each and every time I unfurl the pages of this novel.

~peas and beans just bursting in our home garden.

~a first hand learning experience for my girls.  We plan to head to the local food pantry this week with our first donation from our school garden.

~the Mason jars strewn across my countertop, just waiting to be filled with all kinds of canned deliciousness.

~the fermentation frenzy that is about to begin this week…woohoo!  Kombucha, yogurt and kraut oh my!

~all of you gathered here today!  Wishing you all much happiness and health this week!

School Garden Update: First Week of July

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It dawned on me the other day that I haven’t given you a proper update on the school garden at my daughters’ school, The Cathedral of St. Peter School, since May.  What a travesty I tell you!  So, slip into your spiffiest garden shoes, and come along with us on a tour through the school garden…

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Kicking Things Off

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It’s official.  The school garden at The Cathedral of St. Peter School is fully under way!  Sunday afternoon, we hosted a School Garden Kick-Off Festival where students and their families were able to peruse the garden space, take a look at our fabulous garden sign (hand-crafted by my father-in-law and decorated by the students of St. Peters), and visit with some very special guests.

We were so very fortunate to be joined on Sunday by Father Beekman, who blessed the garden space; Andrea Hazzard of Hazzard Free Farm spoke with families about growing and cooking with grains; Dick Zander of Zander Nursery met with students and their parents to discuss how to grow the best tomatoes in town; and Chef Paul Sletten of Abreo and Social visited with guests to discuss cooking with fresh produce.  It was truly a wonderful afternoon.  The weather could not have been more beautiful, and we were so thankful for all of the families who came out to help ring in this exciting new program for our school.

The entire day left me feeling a great sense of gratitude for all the Earth provides, and how her beauty and bounty can truly bring people together for the greater good.  I cannot wait to see what wonderful adventures await the students of St. Peters as we venture forth with this new endeavor.

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Breaking Ground

After much anticipation, last week we began work on our school garden!  Today I am thrilled to take you on a quick tour of our progress thus far.  So strap on your garden boots, here we go…

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Garden Progress 2 Garden Progress 1We have a bit of structural work to complete this week because we are hosting a  “School Garden Kick-Off Festival” on Sunday, where there will be garden tours, local farmers and a chef…oh my!  We then hope to get the kids planting next week.  I cannot wait!

School Garden

From the very moment my two little girls entered this world, I instantly began worrying about their schooling.  I’m not sure why these thoughts consume me so.  Maybe it is my teacher-self knowing the importance of education.  Or maybe it is the fact that Twain’s “never let school interfere with your education” seems to beat a constant drum in my head.  But no matter the reason, schooling has, and I think will always be, on my mind.

When my eldest little baby ventured off to kindergarten this year, I felt apprehension in my heart and an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach, wondering if I made the correct choice in her schooling endeavors.  It is now that we are in entering our third month of school that I am fully confident that my husband and I have not only made a good choice, but one that has allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief.

My husband and I both have a background in education, so we have always been fairly confident we would be able to supplement academically where our girls may need extra assistance when it comes to their education.  But with family and faith as our top priorities in life, we searched our large city a great deal to find a place where these two aspects of life were not only mentioned, but highlighted and emphasized as being of paramount importance in life.

We found that place in the school that our daughter attends.  It is a place where love and respect for your neighbor is taught and encouraged.  A place where prayer has not vanished, as it has in so many other aspects of our culture.  A place where my daughter not only feels safe, but feels loved and accepted by her fellow peers, the teachers, secretary and principal.  A place of family and faith.

{One possible spot for our new school garden!}

And now a place that emphasizes the importance of being stewards to the earth and caring for God’s creation that He has set before us.  Yes, we have been granted full permission and support to start a school garden!

It is impossible for me to express in words the absolute outpouring of support I have witnessed since first mentioning this project only one month ago.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I have seen a group of adults go above and beyond their call of duty to do what they think is best for kids.  It is truly wonderful and awe-inspiring to be a part of.

And so we begin another new adventure in faith, family…and gardening!  What could be better 🙂  If any of you have experience in working with school or community gardens, please feel free to pass along advice in the comment section of this post.  I will be sure to keep you all updated with the progress of this very exciting project!