December 4, 2013
Dear Mercy Garden Supporters,
Happy Holidays! Much is happening here at GCU for the students with advising, tests, term papers and assignments that portend the rapid approach end of our very first semester as a fully coeducational University.
In fact, so much has happened since my last update, it’s hard to know where to begin! Toward the end of the summer we harvested a bumper crop of tomatoes, peppers, onions, which we used to make a number of batches of our famous “Mercy Me” Salsa (a little spice of heaven). We also received a wonderful donation of tomatoes, peppers and garlic from a local farm to help supplement those that that we grew ourselves. Together with the labor of numerous volunteers (students, staff and alums) who have become known as the “Salsa Elves,” that donation allowed us to bring our total “Mercy Me” salsa production up to 100 jars (plus a bit extra for family use!). As you know, donations generated by the salsa help support some of the basic operating needs of the garden.
Learning by doing
With the season for tomatoes and peppers more or less over, we turned to getting ready for fall and winter. We planted lots of kale and spinach and other leafy greens, which we are growing for donation to Providence House, a Catholic Charity affiliate that helps struggling families with children shed the bonds of extreme poverty and homelessness. We also got a big assist from the GCU women’s lacrosse team who gave up a Saturday in October to help us build cold frames, as well as to expand our compost heap and perennial beds. I wish you could have seen these amazing women, many of whom started the day with little or no gardening experience and virtually none of whom were familiar with using power tools.
After some memorable team building activities (check out our Facebook page for a home movie of our “cross the raging river” activity), the students and their coaches went to work with measuring tapes, power saws, screwdrivers, and other tools to make the cold frames. By the end of the day they were pros with all of the tools as well as having made the cold frame. Meanwhile, another group took pickaxes and shovels to an area of the highly compacted lawn within our fence, and created and planted an extension to our demonstration native pollinator/perennial bed. Finally, a third
group used posthole diggers, shovels and more power tools to construct an extension to our compost heap.
All in all, it was an amazing day of fellowship and team spirit as well as a big advancement in the progress of the garden.
Since that event, Rich Mohr has been working with students on a variety of service learning projects, from marketing (check out the Mercy Garden’s poster board next time you are on the second floor of A&S to see part of that project) to Biology, Natural Sciences and Social Work. Students also staffed a table featuring the Mercy Garden at the first Georgian Court Wellness Fair and at the
Destiny’s Bridge presentation on increasing self-sufficiency among those living in Lakewood’s homeless community.
Growing to give
During this wonderful season where we show thanks for all that we have and seek opportunities to help others, I do hope that you would consider supporting this wonderful and meaningful opportunity to assist those in need by investing in the Mercy Garden. Your donation of any size helps us to further engage GCU students in service learning via the Mercy Garden—an effort that makes a difference in the lives of others, and moreover, provides a sustainable source of organic and natural foods for those battling hunger right here in our own community. If you wish, we’d love to acknowledge your donation with a gift of our delicious salsa (makes a great snack for the holiday season!) Just let us know if you would like mild, medium or hot.
Meanwhile, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season. May 2014 grow much that is good within your lives, as well as within the Mercy Garden and the community that we are building through our work therein.
Merry Christmas, and thanks, as always, for your support.