Westlake community garden flourishes

Rev. Damian Ezeani, UH St. John Medical Center chaplain, gives the annual blessing at the Westlake Community Garden as Sr. Kendra Bottoms, Director of Pastoral Care, observes. Photo by Denny Wendell

With the prime growing season in full swing, the fruits and vegetables in Westlake’s community garden got a little extra help from above last month.

Warm summer sun mixed with bouts of gentle, steady rain are a boon for any gardener, but a sprinkle of holy water and prayers for a bountiful harvest may add a bit of insurance for Westlake’s growers.

On July 25, Rev. Damian Ezeani from UH St. John Medical Center led the annual blessing ceremony at the Westlake Community Garden on the hospital’s campus. After a brief welcome by Mayor Dennis Clough and UH SJMC President Robert David, gardeners joined Sister Kendra Bottoms in a hymn of praise. Sharing his own words and a prayer written by Westlake resident Brian Thompson for the garden’s opening in 2014, Rev. Ezeani blessed the garden and the nourishing food it provides.

In its fifth year, the garden is at maximum capacity of 48 plots, with a waiting list of residents hoping for a chance to test out their green thumbs. For Dan Norris, who co-founded the garden with Regina McCarthy of the Westlake Garden Club and Sister Judith Ann Karam from the Sisters of Charity Health System, the plethora of plants is a welcome sight.

“The garden, I believe, is a tremendous asset for the city of Westlake,” Norris said before the ceremony. “It demonstrates what a small group can do when they get together and do something as a community ... to grow organic vegetables for themselves and their families, and donate to others in need through the Westlake Food Pantry.”

Robert David delighted those in attendance when he suggested that the city and UH SJMC are eyeing relocation to a larger tract of land on the hospital’s grounds to welcome more gardeners and increase the amount of produce that can be donated.

“We would like to expand [the garden] going forward to donate fruits and vegetables to those in the community that are less fortunate,” David said.

Those renting plots in the garden may grow any plants they wish for their own use. Extra crops may be donated to those in need through the food pantry. After a few recent incidents, members of the garden committee were quick to stress that the garden is for registered gardeners only and not open for community picking. The Westlake service department recently installed signs to deter others from entering the garden.

With that level of demand, it seems, a larger garden that allows more veggie-loving Westlakers to grow their own produce can’t come soon enough.

Read More on Nature & Environment
Volume 10, Issue 15, Posted 10:28 AM, 08.07.2018