St. Michael's Family Garden
Spearheaded in 2021 by Beth North and Mabel Blunk, the St. Michael’s Family Garden is affiliated with Unity Gardens, which strives to increase awareness and accessibility of healthy, locally grown food.
Located on the northeast corner of the St. Michael’s lawn, our garden follows a low-maintenance “lasagna” design. Cardboard is first laid on the lawn and then planting beds are created by spreading alternate layers of compost and mulch, provided by the city of South Bend. This approach eliminates the need for tilling and discourages weeds.
Our team of volunteer gardeners, who have attended free classes at Unity Gardens, have been experimenting with different techniques to maximize the garden’s output. Among these are companion planting — pairing certain plants in close proximity in order to increase soil nutrients, boost flavor and deter pests.
This year’s crop included zucchini, cucumbers, yellow squash, eggplant, Swiss chard and multiple varieties of lettuces, tomatoes and peppers. In addition to the vegetables, our garden features different species of flowers to attract pollinators, along with humming-bird feeders and a bee-watering station. As a result, a number of monarch butterflies deposited eggs on the leaves of our milkweed plants, and our Garden Squad was able to watch caterpillars hatch from the eggs, along with the transformation into chrysalis and finally adult butterflies. This is good news as monarchs are a declining species and candidates for Endangered Species Act protection list!
The majority of our garden’s harvest goes to St. Margaret’s House, which is used for meals and given to the shelter’s guests to take home. Vegetables are also used in our Service on Saturday (SOS) community luncheon, which is held on the third Saturday of the month. And, of course, church members and neighbors are invited to share in the produce as well.
A shoutout to this year’s Garden Squad (Beth, Mabel, Carol Nickel, Lynne Switalski) and other green-thumbed parishioners who have helped over the years!