Kathleen Murphy checks the corn crop as harvest nears in Assumption's Parish garden plots.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Kathleen Murphy checks the corn crop as harvest nears in Assumption's Parish garden plots.

September 12, 2016
LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Kathleen Murphy motioned with her outstretched arm, saying "Look at that grass! What a waste!"

The grass she was alluding to was the lawn surrounding Assumption Church.

But not all of the church grounds are grass. Tucked in a corner is a vegetable and herb garden with a few flowers to add colour among the flourishing vegetables.

This green thumb venture is the result of Murphy's desire to turn her fellow parishioners on to the joys and rewards of gardening.

She also wouldn't mind if others bought into the idea of turning lawns that need fertilizing, weeding, cutting, bagging the cuttings, and watering into bountiful vegetable plots.

Murphy practises what she preaches and has turned all the ground surrounding her own home into a garden. Yes, it is a lot of work, she agrees, but the rewards are worth it.

Canada has a history of kitchen gardens. For people from other lands, gardens were a given, and they transplanted their practice to their new country.

During two world wars, Canadians were urged to plant victory gardens of vegetables, herbs and fruits to supplement their diets because of food shortages and rationing.

Climate change and evolving consciousness are prompting some of today's generation to turf their lawn and plant vegetables and herbs that will make their way to the dinner table.

Gordon Bremner stands amidst his sunflowers outside Assumption Church.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Gordon Bremner stands amidst his sunflowers outside Assumption Church.

Murphy, a strong advocate for the family garden, worries about such things as monster homes where the house itself gobbles up most of the land. "Then there is no room for a garden."

This is the second year Assumption has had its 12 gardens. Each plot is about four by 10 feet. The constant rain this year meant there was no need for the gardeners to water their plants.

Fellow parishioners helped with turning over the grass and rototilling the soil.

This was the first year for Lucy Steen to put trowel into the church soil.

"Dad used to garden in the backyard where we lived," Steen said. "We lived on the produce throughout the summer and part of the winter. That's always stuck with me. And I love the taste of food fresh from the garden."

Steen planted potatoes, corn, peas, Swiss chard and carrots.

Memories of her father's gardening came back as she re-learned how to hill the potatoes and create neat rows in the patch. "I didn't have to water because it was always raining."

The potatoes from her patch were creamy and some were even used in the potato salad at the Aug. 21 parish barbecue.

Steen is already planning on putting in a garden next year. "It is not a lot of work."

Gordon Bremner loves the fresh vegetables he gets from his garden and readily shares his produce with friends. He had help from his fellow gardeners in putting in the vegetable seeds and herb plants.

Motioning down to bushy bee balm herbs in his patch, he smiles, "These are my trees."

Bremner also has the honour of having the tallest sunflowers at Assumption.

Murphy has a full-time job plus her own gardens at home and is looking for a volunteer to take over responsibility for organizing the garden next year.

But she knows her toil has been worth it to get the garden project firmly rooted in the parish's agenda.