In the spring of 2015, Milwaukee Catholic Home launched the Clare Gardens project, a sustainable, organic farm-to table-program utilizing land that the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province own in Burlington. Now, just six years later, Clare Gardens has a new permanent home at The Catholic Ecology Center located on the former Camp Winding River Girl Scout Camp in Neosho.
The Executive Director of the Catholic Ecology Center Joe Meyer says, “We are humbled to be the next generation of stewards caring for this very special land. We look forward to the opportunity to get more people out into nature, fostering a love, curiosity and care for our common home.”
Previously occupying 6 acres of the Burlington property, Clare Gardens will now be over triple the size, totaling 18 acres. Thanks to the increase in size, Clare Gardens will expand its offerings to include an orchard and perennial fruits, hosting of beehives, and the continued composting of food waste generated by the Clare Gardens share partners. The Gardens will also continue to provide produce for senior communities that have purchased shares for use at their retirement communities. Not only is the food being grown using organic principles and practices, but the people enjoying the food have intimate knowledge of where and how their food is being grown.
Through Milwaukee Catholic Home’s A Life Engaged programming, the beautiful grounds provide a wonderful experiential outdoor classroom for residents at Milwaukee Catholic Home, Trinity Woods at Mount Mary University, and others in the community. Offerings will be enhanced to include regular farm-to-table dining at Clare Gardens, with educational experiences to expand understanding of composting, no-till farming practices and the effective use of cover crops. These common and proven methods of farming have eliminated the need to use herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides on the food grown at Clare Gardens.
Anna Metscher, farm manager for Clare Gardens, says “What’s so exciting about our new home at The Catholic Ecology Center is not only producing wholesome food but the educational opportunities for teaching people of all ages about growing food and living sustainably.”