In the garden with St. Isidore


Guest post by Monitor Photo and Online Editor Scott Alessi

In most places around the United States, St. Isidore isn’t exactly a household name. But in a small community surrounding one parish, he’s the talk of the town.

My parish is located on one city block in New Brunswick, in a neighborhood that is home to many Mexican immigrant families. The majority of these families come from an area of Mexico where farming is the primary source of income for many local inhabitants. But in the city where they now live, houses are practically stacked on top of one another, leaving almost no available land for gardening. And to complicate matters even further, there are few if any grocery stores that sell fresh produce in the neighborhood.

To respond to this need within the local community, our parish took a piece of its property that had once housed a

Working in St. Isidore's Field

building and turned it into a community garden, which has proudly been named “St. Isidore’s Field.” The 100-foot-long by 25-foot-wide plot of land has 28 individual boxes for local gardeners, which are claimed by those in the community on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tomatoes, peppers, radishes and other fresh produce are found growing in the garden all summer long.

So considering the scope of the project and its purpose, it only made sense to dedicate the garden to the most faithful farmer of all, St. Isidore.

Isidore was a peasant born in Madrid, Spain, in 1070. He went to work for a wealthy landowner as a farmer, but he earned a reputation for being late to work in the morning. It wasn’t that Isidore was lazy – he’s known for being an incredibly dedicated worker – but he simply could not work for his earthly master in the morning until he had been to church to praise his master in heaven.

St. Isidore

As the story goes, Isidore’s commitment to daily Mass attendance did not go unpaid. His employer noticed that Isidore had a little help on the field in the form of two angels, which more than made up for his lateness in terms of productivity. Isidore was also known for his commitment to serving the poor, even though he was himself never a wealthy man. His devotion to God and his fellow man led to his canonization in 1622, and he is now the patron saint of Madrid, as well as the patron of farmers, peasants and day laborers.

A perfect way to celebrate Isidore’s feast day would be to attend morning Mass and then do some work in the garden, or perhaps you can whip up this simple salsa recipe using some garden fresh ingredients:

Simple Salsa with Lime
4 firm, large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine

Juice of 1 large lime
Pinch or 2 of sugar
Salt to taste

Corn chips to dip

Combine all the ingredients, except corn chips, in a non-reactive bowl.

Refrigerate; best if flavors blend in refrigerator for an hour before serving.

Adapted from Jersey Fresh Recipes

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