Harvey (United States). On 19 January 2022 the students of the Academy of Our Lady of Marrero, Harvey, in Louisiana, where the FMA Immaculate Conception Community of St. Joseph Province (SEC) work, had the first harvest from the garden sown in the school garden in the sector of the Environmental Sciences project on Laudato Si’.

In addition to being linked to the school program, cultivation was chosen by the students as an “action plan” in response to Laudato si’, the Encyclical on the care of the common home, in which Pope Francis appeals to the whole human family to seek together an integral sustainable development and collaborate in building the common home (LS 13).

“Pope Francis is encouraging people to carry out environmental care projects to help the common home. I think it’s a great way to get students to recognize how important our planet is and to help them take care of God’s creation”, says their teacher, Sr. Janna Renee.

Last fall the students worked to weed, clear the soil, and spread a net in each of the six ‘beds’ that make up the garden. They then dug the seed holes and sowed and planted the seedlings in October. Sr. Janna watered the garden every two days. Without the use of pesticides and, in the middle of each environmental science lesson, she allowed the students to leave their class to go and tend the garden and observe its progress. “They are really excited to be able to work with their hands”, observes Sister Janna, “It’s beautiful to take them out to do something practical, and every time they go back to class happy!”

Before going outdoors, the students took a lesson on the importance of biodiversity: the need to guarantee a variety of organisms and the conditions to keep all species in balance thanks to the interdependent relationships between them.

The vegetables harvested: cauliflower, broccoli, beets, radishes, shallots, carrots, two types of cabbage, and other vegetables were delivered to the Academy of Our Lady’s Culinary Arts Course Coordinator for use in the kitchen classroom, located a few steps from the garden.

The students, remembering the uncultivated and sterile green space before their intervention, were satisfied with the demanding but rewarding work. “I think it’s really wonderful to plant everything, observe it from the beginning, and see the results”, underlined a student. “And it’s cheaper than going to the store and buying all the vegetables.” They also recognized that the project has given them new skills and a greater appreciation for the work of farmers.

The garden project involved other members of the School: members of the CRS Club, Catholic Relief Services, who keep the garden clean of weeds, as well as teachers and staff with a ‘green thumb’.

Environmental science students are working on two other initiatives related to Laudato si’: creating and selling ‘eco-friendly’ pens and coordinating the project of a manifesto to raise environmental awareness throughout the school. In addition, they participate in the ‘4-H Louisiana coastal studies program’, a national project with lessons on swampy areas and on how to preserve them from the phenomenon of erosion.

Source: Clarion Herald Newspaper


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