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Call it the not-so-secret garden.  

St. Mary’s University, at the recommendation of its Laudto Si’ Implementation Committee on Sustainability, continues to find ways to implement Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home by announcing a second community garden 

The new garden will be on the main campus behind the Science Plaza and , making it more accessible to students, faculty and staff. The original garden behind the will continue to be utilized and cared for by the community.  

A student at St. Mary's tends to crops.
A St. Mary’s University student tends to garden plants during Continuing the Heritage.

Funding, construction and development, and a planting and maintenance program will be led by Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Mary Beth Hawkins, Ph.D.

Published in 2015, Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, calls on Catholics, people of faith and institutions to see the moral and theological reasons for environmentalism. 

In 2021, St. Mary’s was the first university in Texas to become a Laudato Si’  University and began the seven-year journey to promoting a sustainable home. David Turner, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Science, was instrumental in leading a committee in the development of the University’s Laudato Si’ Action Plan in 2022.

“Please join me in thanking Mary Beth Hawkins, David Turner, and their colleagues — Ed Dusha, Director of Facilities, and Jason King, Ph.D., Beirne Director for the Center for Catholic Studies — on the Sustainability Committee who worked to identify the garden’s location and fulfill the University’s commitment to serving those in need with this project,” said St. Mary’s President Thomas M. Mengler, J.D. 

Growing our gardens

The first garden behind the Center for Legal and Social Justice was initially maintained by Marianist brothers until Brother Chaz Lorenz, S.M., the last Marianist brother to tend to the garden, died in  2015.   

In 2016, Evelynn Mitchell, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Science, wanting to see the garden continue, helped apply for a grant, created a training manual for gardeners, and purchased tools, seeds, soil, mulch and pollinating plants. 

Community gardens fall under one of the Laudato Si’s seven areas of focus, ecological economics, which acknowledges that the economy affects the planet and calls for actions, such as growing an edible garden, finding ways to offset fossil fuel use and participating in fair-trade markets. 

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