It’s a wrap. After productive growing seasons in the summer and early fall, gardeners working their plots in the Viatorian Giving Garden have cleaned out their beds and prepared the soil for winter.

Adults and students combined to help this year’s garden grow

Associate John Dussman, who coordinated the garden ministry, commended them for all their efforts over the last six months in working to feed hungry families. All told, the workers harvested more than 850 pounds of vegetables, which were delivered to the Wheeling Township Food Pantry, which serves more than 400 local families every month.

“Thank you for all you did to feed the hungry,” Dussman wrote to them this week. “The variety of vegetables donated to the food pantry this year was the best ever.”

Tomatoes remain the biggest crop, but this year’s harvest included a great variety of vegetables

In years past, early harvests have yielded radishes, lettuce, beets, peppers, zuchinni, squash and eggplant, while the late summer led to hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and more peppers. This year’s crops also included corn, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans and herbs.

And don’t forget the fresh flowers. Associate Joan Sweeney once again grew a mixture of zinnias, poppies and daisies as well as purple sage, which she cut and hand-tied into more than 180 fresh bouquets, whish were distributed to Meals on Wheels recipients.

More flower cuttings for bouquets

“I think of it as food for the soul,” Sweeney says.

It was a true community that made this garden ministry work. They included Viatorian associates and staff members at the Viatorian Province Center, as well as alumni, students and their families at Saint Viator High School.

Amanda Murphy, a 2017 Saint Viator High School graduate, discovered a love of gardening

The newest group to roll their sleeves up and garden were members of the junior varsity girls’ lacrosse team and their coach, Mrs. Kathy Gallagher, while students who attended Saint Viator’s Service & Song Camp over the summer, also helped, under the guidance of Pre-Associate John Paulik. Some of the young men living at the Viator House of Hospitality also pitched in to help, led by Br. Peter Lamick, CSV.

Viatorians also involved included Fr. Dan Hall, CSV, who started the garden five years ago, and Fr. Charlie Bolser, CSV, who participated for the first time this year.

“Thanks to Fr. Dan Hall and the Viatorians for getting this garden started,” Dussman said, “and giving each of us a chance to make a caring difference in the lives of others.”