Unused parcel of mission church property helps feed the hungry
With a parcel of unused land, a small-town Illinois parish has started a community garden to feed the hungry and follow the call to care for the earth in response to one of Pope Francis’ encyclicals.
Known as Jordan River Farm, the project at Sacred Heart Mission in rural Kankakee County is part of the Diocese of Joliet’s Laudato Si’ Ministries program, Kayla Jacobs, ministry director, explained during a prerecorded Catholic Social Ministries Gathering workshop.
The small farm, run by volunteers is helping feed residents of nearby Hopkins Park, population 600, about 75 miles south of Chicago. Jacobs said the project is an example of how local parishes can help implement the pope’s ideas found in “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”
“The reason we felt we needed to address food insecurity is that we as a church are in a strong position to provide food for people who are hungry because we have so much land,” Jacobs said.
She said such gardens can be grown on vast areas of lawn that many parishes have. Not only does such a project provide much-needed food, it helps reduce carbon emissions because there is no longer a need to mow grass, she added.
The diocese’s Laudato Si’ Ministries has reached out to several parishes to encourage the development of “green teams” of volunteers who are working on environmental concerns. Jacobs’ office also coordinates legislative and policy advocacy on environmental issues at the Illinois Capitol and in local communities.