A somewhat recent phenomenon that has surfaced in the society is the pursuit of purity when it comes to food. It can be seen most clearly in the preference towards organic food and non-genetically modified organisms (GMO), a movement which has been gaining momentum. This is especially apparent when it is viewed within the context of the state of the food industry today: on the whole, more and more chemicals and GMOs are being used in farming to produce the highest yield possible, thus maximizing the profits.
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The grounds of St. Patrick’s Seminary & University boast row upon row of broccoli, Swiss chard, kale and strawberries this spring, products of a new parish Catholic workers cooperative created in a venture among the seminary, Guadalupe Associates and the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, East Palo Alto.
“I was actually surprised we yielded so much the first year,” said Sulpician Father Gladstone Stevens, rector of the seminary who along with San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone approved the use of seminary grounds to grow the crops as part of NanoFarms USA’s pilot project. The website is nanofarms.com.
For some years I had been thinking out loud about engaging in volunteer work. Each time I expressed these thoughts my wife would reply, “Yes, wait until you retire”. I worked as Career Guidance Counsellor in St.Finian’s College, Mullingar, Ireland. Five years previously I had completed a training course with Viatores Christi in overseas volunteer work.
Retirement came in June 2014, after my 65th birthday. That week an email arrived asking if I was interested in going to Zambia to assist the Jesuits there setting up a commercial dairy farm enterprise; I had also retired from running my own 55 cow dairy farm about eight years ago. Since God had blessed me with a healthy family and good health, my wife and I decided it was a great opportunity to give a little assistance back to people who are less well off.
On a recent Saturday morning, the Urban Farming Club cleaned, tilled, fertilized, and planted their spring garden. With thanks to Southern Gateway Garden Center, the club looks forward to harvesting a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, parsley, rosemary, celery, and red, yellow and green peppers. The garden is all organic, using flowers as insecticide. The crops will be donated a local non-profit organization this summer.