After the wettest spring on record in the Chicago area, the Viatorian Giving Garden is starting to reap the benefits of abundant sunshine. Its raised beds are producing fresh vegetables and flowers, all grown for the local food pantry.

Associate John Dussman coordinates Viatorian gardeners.

Associate John Dussman coordinates the garden and its many volunteers. Since its inception, the Viatorian Giving Garden has produced more than two tons of fresh vegetables, including radishes, lettuce, beets, peppers, zuchinni, squash and eggplant, as well as corn, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans and herbs.

Fr. Dan Hall, CSV, Provincial, conceived the garden in 2012, as an initiative to help provide nutritious vegetables to families in the Northwest suburbs, struggling to put food on the table.

“It’s all about feeding the hungry,” Fr. Hall said at the outset.

Right from the beginning, he drew support from a wide variety of gardeners, from the Viatorians themselves, to staff members, as well as alumni, students and their families at Saint Viator High School.

Amelia McKenna, a junior at Saint Viator High School, admires the tall sun flowers.

The newest group to roll their sleeves up are the men living at Viator House of Hospitality, who wanted to give back to the local community that has welcomed them while they await their asylum cases.

Chris Sevilla, a senior at Saint Viator High School, helps to clear the weeds.

Students from Saint Viator High School also help out every year. During their summer Service & Song Camp, they spend time in the garden helping to weed and maintain the paths surrounding the beds.

Most of the produce goes to the food pantry at Wheeling Township, which last year fed 5,000 families or more than 10,000 individuals living in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs.