As the Sunday evening sun shines away along McMurray Road in Upper St. Clair, the parishioners of St. Louise de Marillac are busy harvesting brightly colored vegetables for their South Hills neighbors in need.
A member of the church’s Catholic Men’s Fellowship (CMF), Andy Hays holds this work very close to his heart, “I have been volunteering in SHIM’s food pantry for about three years now and love the direct impact it makes. Starting this garden allowed us to garner the resources of CMF and the parish as a whole to make an even bigger difference in the community,” he expresses.
For the group, it is more than just carrots, peppers and tomatoes. The decision to start a community garden was inspired by church pastor, Father Joe Sioli, who believes that serving our neighbors in charity is key to their parish thriving. The program also allows the congregation to work with their sister parish, St. Joan of Arc, which knows a thing or two about growing that perfect head of lettuce, having one of SHIM’s largest gardens in the community.
With the guidance of Dr. Ron Boron, St. Joan of Arc’s lead gardener and SHIM, a planning team of church members, including Ray Cauldill, Jim Drummond and Karen Prtiz, was formed to help the garden take shape. With more than eight years of community garden experience, SHIM was able to provide the team with insights on the needs of the neighborhood, as well as resources for buying and planting all the shiny new seeds. In addition, the group received a generous grant from Grow Pittsburgh to advance the work. Now that the program is up and running, the team makes weekly deliveries of fresh produce to SHIM, bringing smiles to neighbors in need and making all those Sunday evenings in the sometimes-setting sun completely worth it.
Interested in getting your hands dirty for a good cause? Learn more about volunteering at one of our gardens.