The Legacy of the SMC Hunger Gardens

The Legacy of Saint Michael's College MOVE Hunger Garden

In 1989, when Director of Campus Ministry Father Tom Hoar established the MOVE Hunger Garden on campus, with the mission of addressing food insecurity in Chittenden county, Father John Stankiewicz, SSE '37, could not have been a better man for the job of "executive gardener". Stankiewicz became passionate about gardening as a young boy and even cultivated a "Victory Garden" on campus during the Second World War. In addition to his green thumb, Father John was respected and beloved by the Saint Michael's community, serving as priest, treasurer, dean of men, trustee, and avid students' sports fan for 15 years. With the help of students, faculty, staff and other community members, the Hunger Garden provided a bounty of fresh produce for the Burlington Emergency Food Shelf (now known as the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf). 

In 1991 alone, the Hunger Garden donated two tons of vegetables to the food shelf, including cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, and squash. In addition to serving those in need, the Hunger Garden provided a unique opportunity for students to get their hands dirty, to learn through experience how to grow and harvest food, and to see the positive impact their efforts could have on the local community. Students volunteered regularly throughout April to late September, and it became tradition for the ice hockey team to harvest
potatoes each season. Father John viewed the Hunger Garden as a place where students could learn to "share their blessings with others" as well as bond with other members of the campus and local community in a meaningful way. 

The legacy of the Hunger Garden lives on today, as the Office of Sustainability and the Organic Garden Program begin to cultivate the same 1.7-acre plot of land that Father John and his fellow gardeners nurtured so fruitfully. The Organic Garden, on only a quarter acre, has been able to donate over 1,000 pounds of produce to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf and the Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue Program. By expanding in size, the Organic Garden Program will not only be able to donate even more produce to organizations that focus on hunger and food security; it will be able to provide the campus community with an outdoor classroom for growing, learning, and serving once again. 


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