JPIC – Farm Focus

It is an exciting time of year as the first warm-season crops are ready for harvest – in the last week we have picked the first few cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. By this time next month we will be in full harvest mode! Some of our spring-planted crops are also maturing, including radishes, Swiss chard, and lettuce.

JPIC – Farm Focus

May 2021 Newsletter
May is probably one of the busier months on the farm with all the planting we have to do. Beds of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, winter squash, zucchini, okra, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and more were planted this month. Many of these warm-season crops are covered to provide additional warmth and help them through cooler nights. 

JPIC – Farm Focus

Saturday, May 22, 2021: Our Little Portion Farm ministry, in Ellicott City, MD, celebrated a Sowing and Blessing the Wildflowers.” This is an important part of an ecological balancing strategy to attract predatory insects to our farm to help control the pests that damage the crops. Farmer Matt Jones (above right – JPIC Assistant Director & Farm Outreach Coordinator), the friars, staff members from the varied ministries on site, and an extensive array of volunteers have planted a diversity of flowering plants to help attract these helpful creatures, in keeping with our avoidance of all pesticides.  During the May 22nd event, guests of all ages were invited to help scatter seeds for the new wildflower section and participate in a brief prayer service. These wildflower sections provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects, but also create spaces where visitors can contemplate the beauty of creation. Province JPIC Commission Chairman and Farm Director ~ Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. (below left) presided over the service. After the blessing, visitors were welcomed to walk around the farm and learn more about our unique ministry, in rural Howard County, Maryland, on the grounds of The Shrine of St. Anthony; home to our Provincial House, the Carrollton Hall Historic Site, the Companions of St. Anthony, the Province Franciscan Mission Association Office, and the Franciscan Soy Candles ministry!
Note from Farmer Matt: “One of St. Francis’ early biographers wrote that St. Francis believed that gardens should always have a part set aside to be “undug.” According to this biographer, St. Francis thought that seeing this wild beauty would lead people to praise the Creator. So the wildflower areas on the farm are an interpretation of this concept, in addition to being places of ecological benefit.”

Wildflower Sowing & Blessing – May 22, 2021

Opening Prayer: 
Creator God, we ask you now to be with us in this place. We recognize you as the Giver and Sustainer of life—in the seed, in the soil, and in the sower. We thank you for the opportunity to take part as a co-creator in this garden, planting seeds that—with your continued sustenance—will flourish with life. We pray that we will never lack in wonder or gratitude for these gifts, and that we are always rooted in a deep place of humility.

Reading: Psalm 104:1-24

Blessings:
Sister Seed
We invite you now to take a cup of seeds to scatter on the ground. Take care to scatter the seeds slowly and carefully, so that together we may cover the entire area evenly. Become aware of the wondrous reality that each tiny seed has the potential within to become a living plant. We pray that these seeds may burst forth in abundant growth to become healthy plants; that these plants may provide sustenance for many creatures; and that these flowers reflect the beauty of their Creator. ALL: Creator God, hear our prayer.

Brother Soil
We invite you to walk on the seeds, pressing them into the soil. Touch the soil with your hands. Become aware of this particular soil, unique to this place, yet, at the same time, a part of our vast, interconnected planet Earth. We pray that this soil be a suitable home for a diversity of life, whether visible or invisible to us. May its nutrients nourish the wildflowers and may it provide a strong foundation for their roots.  ALL: Creator God, hear our prayer.

Sister Water
We invite you to take a cup of water. Touch the water and flick it onto the newly planted seeds. Become aware of the journey these particular drops of water may have taken to arrive here on this land. We pray that this water may break open these seeds and that this ground may be blessed with lifegiving rains. ALL: Creator God, hear our prayer.

Brother Sun
We now invite you to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on your skin. Become aware of the sun, whose heat makes our world inhabitable and whose light illuminates its beauty. We pray that the sun’s rays reach these wildflower seeds who need its light to sprout.  May sunlight shine on these plants to help them grow and reflect their beauty to us. ALL: Creator God, hear our prayer.

Closing Prayer:
Creator God, we thank you for the opportunity today to be gardeners tending a small corner of your magnificent creation. Sister Seed, Brother Soil, Sister Water, and Brother Sun – bless these companions of creation. Open our eyes that we may see how intimately we are connected to them; help us understand how deeply we depend on their gifts. Please guide our work on this farm. Give strength to our volunteers, sustain the plants we grow, and help us to provide an abundant harvest of nourishing food to the most vulnerable among us. Amen

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Be sure to check out more photos from this event and upcoming events & harvests happening at Little Portion Farm via their Facebook page!

JPIC – Farm Focus

Last week we celebrated the feast day of Blessed Giles of Assisi, the patron of Little Portion Farm. Giles was a farmer and early follower of St. Francis. After grain had been harvested in the summer, Giles would walk the fields to glean what was leftover by the reapers, and then gave away almost all that he gathered to the poor.

JPIC ~ Novitiate Visit

Novices Left – Right: friar Jonathan Garcia Zenteno, OFM Conv. (Our Lady of the Angels Province), friar Anthony Ruffolo, OFM Conv. (Saint Bonaventure Province), friar Michael Boes, OFM Conv. (Our Lady of the Angels Province), [Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. – Our Lady of the Angels Province JPIC Commission Chairman], friar Wayne Mulei, OFM Conv. (St. Joseph of Cupertino Province), friar Bram De Backer, OFM Conv. (Our Lady of the Angels Province) and friar Edgar Varela, OFM Conv. (Our Lady of the Angels Province).

April 12-19, 2021: Our Lady of the Angels Province JPIC (Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation) Commission Chairman, Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. visited the North American Novitiate, to speak about social justice, his experience in his JPIC Ministries in Shamokin, PA and the 2019 JPIC Summer Experience he had with five student friars in Shamokin, Lexington, Colombia, and El Salvador. The 2020-2021 Class of Novices were grateful for the quality time they spent with Friar Michael.

JPIC – Farm Focus

Beds of spinach and kale that were planted in late October or even early November spent the winter as tiny plants quietly waiting for warmer temperatures and longer days.

Catholic Advocacy Day

In conjunction with the efforts of the Maryland Catholic Conference, Little Portion Farm’s Outreach Coordinator & JPIC Assistant Director ~ Farmer Matt Jones, and student friar ~  br. Cristofer M. Fernández, OFM Conv. lead us in today’s prayer for elected officials, on location at our province’s Little Portion Farm on the grounds of The Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD).

Little Portion Farm uses sustainable methods that respect and care for the land. The produce harvested from the farm is donated to help people in need in Baltimore. For more information on Catholic Advocacy Day (February 16, 2021) visit the Advocacy Day Virtual Site.

JPIC – Farm Focus

The harvest continues! Interestingly, we have harvested more food (by weight) this month than we did in November. As a result, we have officially surpassed 20,000 pounds of food harvested this year! We were put over the top last week after harvesting 861 pounds of carrots from two 100-foot beds.