The Sister St. Mark Garden Fund helps community gardens to flourish and fulfills the Sisters’ mission of unity with God and neighbor
The Sisters of St. Joseph have awarded nine grants to community gardens as part of their mission to help reduce food insecurity and provide healthy food choices for families and youth within Beaver, Allegheny and Butler Counties.
“By promoting sustainability in our neighborhoods, we are also building relationships among collaborators who share in our values and appreciate the bounty of Earth,” says Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Leadership Team who planted the seed for the establishment of the Sr. St. Mark Garden Fund.
The 2020 grant recipients are:
- Ballfield Farm, Pittsburgh
- Brighton First Children’s Garden, New Brighton
- Fern Hollow Nature Center, Sewickley
- Garfield Community Farm, Pittsburgh
- House of Prayer Lutheran Church, Aliquippa
- Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs, Moon
- Providence Church Garden, McKees Rocks
- Second Harvest Community Thrift, Sharpsburg
- St. Ferdinand Vegetable Garden, Cranberry
The awards, ranging from $400 to $500 each, will help fund materials such as tools, plants, and fencing, as well as improvements to structures, watering systems and accessibility. The grants are funded, in part, from proceeds from the Sisters of St. Joseph annual farm-to-table fund-raising dinner called Faith. Field. Feast. which takes place each fall on their Motherhouse grounds in Baden. Through their on-site community gardens and Congregational garden, the Sisters donated 3,174 pounds of produce to five local food banks and pantries in 2019.
About Sister Sr. Mark:
Sister St. Mark Lesko, who was born on July 1, 1894, entered the Sisters of St. Joseph from St. John Parish in Johnstown, PA. She worked most of her religious life in the laundry of St. Joseph Hospital on Pittsburgh’s Southside. When the doctors felt that Sister’s lungs were weakening from constant exposure to lint in the laundry, they advised her that her ministry be changed to one in the “open air.” Sister St. Mark was then placed in charge of the farm at the Motherhouse in Baden at a time (circa 1946) when the Sisters depended on it for much of their own food. Sister St. Mark was a gentle, quiet woman who spent her life in humble, untiring service. She died in 1960, just nine days after her 66th birthday.
The Sisters of St. Joseph are a religious Catholic community of women who commit themselves, their energies, and their resources to their mission of serving God and the ‘dear neighbor’ without distinction throughout Western Pennsylvania and beyond. This year the Sisters are celebrating the 150-year anniversary of their founding in Ebensburg, PA.