Holy work on holy ground

Cate Henderson attends the Kingston Garden Expo in early March.


Today’s Holy work on Holy ground is the tag line of Val Westgate’s new instructional video. Indeed, Holy work is taking place out on these Holy grounds, even as I, the farmer, try to take my winter rest!

The land is working hard to assess all that has been done to it over the growing season. As I write this, the land is gathering moisture and cosmic energies that will be used soon enough come spring. I have done my best to protect it by covering it with rye and straw; now it will work away until the time is right for me to engage with it again. Some of you noticed the beautiful, tasty-looking cabbages that were still out there at freeze-up. These biennials have been tucked in well, in hopes they will give us lots of lively seed this growing season.

We are very grateful to all the local farmers who work so hard to grow ecological food for us. I think of this particularly as I calculate the number of hours spent in the fields here this past growing season. Unbelievably, I worked enough evenings and weekends to fill an extra month over the growing season alone — and this was just over an acre in production! And that’s with the help of Sisters Alda Brady, Shirley Morris and many other volunteers. Carol and Robert Mouck put in many more hours between the two of them.

There are many exciting plans for the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary for 2010. We have been approved to host an intern for this season — a young person able to offer his/her labour time in exchange for farming and seed-saving learning and a small stipend. Hopefully, this candidate will continue to farm on his/her own land and carry these seed saving skills into the future. We have a full schedule of workshops held on the third Saturday of each month at the barn, and we`ll host a display booth at the Kingston Gardening Expo. We will co-sponsor the popular Seedy Saturday once again at the Central library. Plans are underway for a day-long presentation at Providence Spirituality Centre next year, and I will soon be giving a presentation to Sisters who are unable to make the trip to the barn. As a member of the Mission Week organizing committee this year, we supported another local farmer and seed saver by purchasing all our candles and raffle baskets from Karen ten Cate, daughter of former Motherhouse IT director Peter Riley. The bees that produced this honey and beeswax also pollinate her plants, from our seeds — a perfect partnership!

Our Vernal Equinox celebration will take place on Saturday, March 20 at 1:30 pm in the barn; the monthly workshhop will follow right after the Equinox celebration. The land and the seeds deserve our respect and prayers every day.

Sister Monica Whalen participates in a candlelight ceremony during the Winter Solstice in the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary barn.