De Mazenod Farm Feeding Canada’s Poor
The Missionary Oblates have started a farm in rural Canada to provide food for their soup kitchen in the inner city of Hamilton, Ontario.
The De Mazenod Door Outreach Program provides meals to about 400 people in Hamilton every day. The program was started by Fr. Tony O’Dell, O.M.I. and Fr. Jarek Pachocki, O.M.I. soon after arriving in Hamilton in 2012 and setting up home at St. Patrick Church. The ministry is named De Mazenod Door after St. Eugene De Mazenod, the founder of the Missionary Oblates.
“The door is the symbol of openness, welcome and hospitality,” said Fr. Tony. “And now with our farm it is also a place of new growth, sustenance and abundance. Our goal is to create a sustainable source of healthy, locally-grown food for our guests.”
The De Mazenod Farm is a 19-acre property located in rural Ancaster, Ontario. The land had been sitting idle when Fr Tony suggested the farm be put back into use to support the Oblates efforts to feed the hungry.
The De Mazenod Farm is growing over 40 types of vegetables and herbs including beans, peppers, potatoes, beets, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower. When harvested, the produce is sent to the De Mazenod Door kitchen where it is used to create homemade meals for the guests including hearty soups, stews and casseroles. The farm is also home to 36 laying chickens that are providing eggs for breakfasts served at De Mazenod Door.
A special garden at the farm is where flowers are grown that decorate St. Patrick Church for special feast days and Sundays during the summer and fall. There are also plans to create prayer spaces on the farm, where people can “get away” and relax in nature.
In addition to providing food for the poor, the farm is also a place of community building, seeking to engage, educate and empower all who visit and wish to lend a helping hand. The farm welcomes volunteers from every walk of life including many frontline workers suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who are eager to contribute in any way that they can.
“With the help of many dedicated volunteers we are producing a whole bounty of goodness while cultivating a community of love and compassion,” said Fr. Tony.
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