"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

Sharing the Bounty

By S. Georgia Kitt

“If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.” Robert Breault 

S. Pat Wittberg remembers her family moving to a home that had been owned by a gardener. The yard welcomed her with grape arbors, peach, cherry and walnut trees and endless varieties of flowers. She was only 3 at the time, but it opened up for her a love for the land and her role in it while still a toddler. She realized plants bring life. Early on trees became a favorite, even to this day. She credits trees with wanting to know where they want to be planted, where they will be happiest. “Allow them to stay where they sprout up” is her advice. She finds joy in “keeping the forest at bay.”

S. Pat does not approach her gardening season with a specific plan. She enjoys trying seeds new to her. This year it is white pappy pan squash and pink French flat beans. Small white pumpkins are beginning to emerge from another planted area, a bit early for Halloween. In early spring she loves to explore and rescue what ‘new’ is springing up in a familiar plot. So far black raspberries, a mock orange bush and a fledgling oak tree are her rescues discovered in the garden plot in their yard at home. She is one who saves and shares seeds. She also is an excavator of honeysuckle and other invasive weeds each spring.

The enclosed Motherhouse garden areas are part of S. Pat’s newest adventure. She is thrilled to harvest her pole and wax beans that now have an 8-foot fence to climb. They have been her most satisfying crop so far and they are still coming. They may require a ladder soon! She has harvested 35 pounds of beans thus far. “Success has so much to do with the fertility of the soil,” S. Pat shared. “In this space tomatoes are becoming abundant as well.” Her bounty is being shared two times per week with Holy Family Parish Food Pantry, Community Matters and Sisters of Charity employees at the entrance to Mother Margaret Hall. “Sharing the bounty makes it all worthwhile,” she says.

Gardening is a centering thing for S. Pat. It brings a calmness to her soul as she picks the beans or weeds a section of squash. She agrees with the words of Robert Breault, “I cultivate my garden and my garden cultivates me.” It brings her joy to see the face of a Sister brighten up when she brings her a cherry tomato. Past gardening Sisters, no longer able to be ‘out in it,’ are so happy to see planting and harvesting continue. It recalls for them why they loved being out in the dirt with their head in the sun and their heart with nature. It reignites a shared sense of community.

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