Victory Gardens – Fr. Mark Hanna

The following article was written by the late Fr. Mark Hanna who passed away on Saturday, April 9, 2016.  Fr. Mark was serving as a professed Third Order Franciscan with Living Stone Priory, The Company of Jesus, in Newport News, VA, under the Priorship of Brother Deacon Timothy Luken, CJ.  A major part of his ministry was to reach out to the many needy families through their kitchen and food bank.

Victory Gardens

Anyone can plant one. Smallest example: take one Walmart plastic bucket filled with fertile soil and one tomato seed. Plant the seed and keep the plant in the sun, well watered.  The yield of a well-tended tomato plant is about ten to twelve tomatoes. Let us assume 10. Your friendly local farm market will be charging $.69 each for nice handpicked tomatoes. That is a yield or cost savings of $6.90 for one tomato plant with minimal investment. A window box could hold as many as 3 or 4 such plants and yield commensurately the same, $20.70.  A small garden with a multitude of plants, of different types, begets a greater yield. The idea at this scale is to not sell the produce, although one may, but to contribute the money you would have normally spent buying the veggies instead to a ministry fund.

Years ago, Les and I planted a small 15 x 15 plot with 35 tomatoes plants, broccoli, zucchini, kale, pumpkins, potatoes, squash, zucchini , green peppers, tomatillos, etc., etc., (and also zucchini, I think) and we didn’t have to buy veggies for most of an entire year. Because we planted plumb tomatoes, cooked and canned them, we didn’t have to buy tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, stewed tomatoes, etc. for the next two years.  We planted such a garden for several years and filled a lot of the local food bank’s needs as well. That is the potential yield with only a 15 x 15 plot, in Connecticut, with a fairly short growing season!

Imagine what a windfall for a ministry it could have been if we marketed the produce? A 1/4 acre plot of land can easily accommodate 4 or more such gardens in the back yard alone.  A church with some empty space (no, not pews) could have quite a victory garden ministry.

This ministry could unlock possibilities in some poor neighborhoods. Growing community gardens, or just teaching people how to “return to the earth” could be very transforming of individual lives as well as communities. Now that’s victory!

Refer to Genesis Chapter 2:8 and remember to be imitators of Christ.

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