Farm-to-table: The Loreto Sisters New Sustainability Project
Encouraged by the General Congregation Calls 2014 and the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Loreto Sisters at the Mary Ward Retreat Centre in Nairobi are moving towards sustainability and eco-friendliness, as they strive to ‘live sustainably, discerning what is enough’.
The decision to cultivate and harvest their fresh produce, which includes an array of vegetables, meat and poultry, means that the Mary Ward Retreat Centre is building its self-sustainability while at the same time providing employment and training opportunities for 20 casual workers. The produce from the garden feeds over 270 guests every month and provide a new revenue stream through the sale of some of this produce.
Not only have the casual workers been offered new employment opportunities, they have also been given skills-training in sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. Staff are, for example, trained by an agronomist to manage and run the greenhouse. They are already applying these newly acquired skills and are excited to be part of the project.
The Loreto Sisters have welcomed the positive feedback on the quality of the fresh vegetables, milk, eggs and chicken, with many guests buying the produce whenever they come to attend workshops at the centre.
Recently 25 Loreto Sisters from around the world, who hold diverse leadership positions in their own countries, gathered at the Mary Ward Retreat Centre for two and a half weeks to learn from one another and set future directions for the congregation. Enjoying the fresh produce from the Centre’s small farm, they witnessed, firsthand, to the benefits of this sustainable and enterprising project.
Program Manager, Sr Hellen Oluoch ibvm, outlines the recent achievements:
Staff have noted that the yield from the farm would be boosted by the installation of a second greenhouse, thereby creating a continuous cycle. The scaling up of the project would enable the farm to sustain itself by generating income from selling farm produce to the Centre and the wider community. Given the limited space available for farming, this is the best option to achieve project sustainability and help consolidate long-term income generation.
Approximately $US 1,225 in sales have accrued from the farm produce so far and as time goes on, the Loreto Sisters will be able to focus on delivering retreats, training and meeting the pastoral needs of the community, rather than channelling their energies and limited finance on securing food resources.
Community building and sustainability is what drives and defines this important project. It is one small way the Loreto Sisters, and the wider international Loreto community, move towards environmental sustainability propelled forward by the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. We commit ourselves to actions aimed at positively transforming the people of the world, our planet and for our common well-being. Hope resides in our capacity to reimagine a different more sustainable future, simultaneously, patiently and radically, in the midst of global uncertainties.