125 pounds and counting!

A garden developed by the Viatorian Community in June, specifically to address hunger in the Northwest suburbs, is producing, in spades.

Not even this summer’s extreme temperatures or the worst drought to hit the Midwest in 50 years, could slow this little garden that could.

Within the first month of harvesting, a group of Viatorians and Province Center staff members were able to donate more than 100 pounds of fresh vegetables — and all before their most prolific crop — tomatoes — begins to ripen.

“We, as a community, have been very blessed,” says Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, who is leading the effort. “This is something we can do to help those around us. We see it as our responsibility and our mission.”

Those involved say it’s been a group effort, with gardeners taking turns with daily watering chores, weeding and monitoring pest control.

Chef Tom Leavitt, who first brought the garden idea to the community, says he is enjoying developing some of the produce into nutritious menu items for the retired brothers and priests, including baked zucchini, green bean casserole and lots of fresh salads.

The majority of the produce has gone to the food pantry run by Wheeling Township, which last year served more than 3,700 individuals from across the Northwest suburbs.

And not just food. Associate Joan Sweeney donated small bouquets of hand cut flowers from the garden to accompany the food donations.

“As a group,” Joan says, “we thought flowers would add an extra human touch.”