Home Christian News New York Catholic Workers Bring New Growth With Rooftop Garden

New York Catholic Workers Bring New Growth With Rooftop Garden

“After talking with some folks, there was a sense that there was a missing puzzle piece to where the movement was at recently,” said Oglesby, a Catholic Worker volunteer, musician and environmental educator in his mid-30s. “So, the circle is a source of excitement.”

That excitement has broadened outside of Maryhouse thanks to social media, despite some initial concern that digital communication could jeopardize what Maurin called “personalism” — a call to act directly and personally in order to form relationships and organize the community. However, it became clear with the Integral Ecology Circle that the Catholic Worker’s Instagram page was mobilizing people from the online space into Maryhouse.

Myers created the New York Catholic Worker Instagram page in 2022 and has been using it to share news of the movement, including an announcement of the IEC’s garden project. The page has more than 1,000 followers.

“Many people involved in the circle first came to us through Instagram,” said Myers. “We have moved from an online platform to physical space.”

Materials for the IEC’s rooftop garden, such as potting soil, seed containers and grow lights, came in after Oglesby posted about the garden on his personal Instagram account. The IEC is currently working on collecting wood to construct large garden plots for the rapidly growing seeds.

Since mid-March, when the IEC first met to plant seedlings in egg cartons, kale, lettuce, tomato, spinach and other plants have begun to show the first signs of life on the house’s fourth floor.

“Certainly there’s a call as a person of faith to embody or to recognize our interconnectedness not only with other humans but with plants,” Myers said.

The IEC’s humble garden will not replace the farm as a food source. Maryhouse provides free lunch every weekday for about 30 women as well as meals for the approximately 20 people it houses. These operations rely on donations.

“We eat a lot of rice and beans and split pea soup,” Myers said. “Part of it is just what we collectively have come to accept, I think.”

The ecology group’s members say their goal is not only to feed people, but sprout new life at Maryhouse.

“Based on our conversations, I think the New York City (Catholic Worker) chapter has needed to get some new momentum to bring it into the present,” Oglesby said. “And the present is very much characterized by ecological concerns.”

Already the IEC has brought new faces to Maryhouse. Alexandra Rapp, a student studying international and Catholic American studies at Fordham University, and Alex Zambito, a middle school teacher, had never visited Maryhouse, though both said they had been aware of Day’s work. Zambito saw a post on the New York Catholic Worker’s Instagram page announcing the group and inviting people to come see the garden.