By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC 

Gardeners are happily digging, planting, seeding and weeding these days. Community garden plots are a particular love of mine because they green our urban landscape in empty lots and pocket parks.

In community gardens, neighbors share small sections or raised beds for their individual tomato, beans, squash, herbs and other plants, all set into soil with hope, anticipation and promise. Such gardens are growing in popularity as a means to provide food for a family.

Community gardening sprang into life for me over the last few weeks when groups of people visited a small back yard I share with others to help get the 6-foot-by-12-foot garden plots prepared and planted.

People showed up when they had time to contribute to the endeavor, and they included students from Saint Louis University who shoveled compost onto the garden after they already had helped clean our alleys.

Two neighbor guys spaded more compost into the plots, then tilled and smoothed them for planting. An Adorer came over to plant beans, squash, and potatoes. We prayed for good results as she sprinkled ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palms onto the soil. I set the tomato plants in our tomato cage, built several years ago by a neighbor, so that five households on the block, rather than neighborhood squirrels, could enjoy the tomatoes.

Community gardening, grounded in one back yard, expandscommunity to include neighbors, religious community members and Earth herself. The life cycle is an expanding spiral of people, plants, soil and unity.  We all rely on each other for community gardening.

While the beds do require consistent work and care, our food and survival do not rely solely on our gardening efforts, unlike farmers whose livelihood depends on a successful harvest.

Still, I pray for a good growing season, abundant produce from our small plots and the thriving of our little “family farms.” We’ve already received the blessings of community, friendship and cooperation.