- Adapted from an article originally published on omilacombe.ca
De Mazenod Outreach ministry will operate a local farm to grow food for Hamilton’s poor
On April 8, 2021, the De Mazenod Door Outreach program, which offers sustenance to the poor and marginalized in inner-city Hamilton, providing food for the hungry and drink for the thirsty for approximately 400 guests daily, 365 days a year, announced the launch of the De Mazenod Farm, yet another initiative to help the poor and marginalized.
The Outreach Program was started by Fr Tony O’Dell, OMI and Fr. Jarek Pachocki, OMI, soon after arriving in Hamilton in 2012 and setting up home at St. Patrick Church. Named De Mazenod Door after St. Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates and the patron saint and intercessor for the poor.
“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, a 19-acre property is located in rural Ancaster, Ontario. The land had been sitting idle when Fr Tony suggested that we use the farm and put it back into use to support our programs and contribute back to the community.
Bishop Douglas Crosby, OMI, Bishop of Hamilton, also expressed his delight. “With this most recent development at the DeMazenod Door Outreach, we will be able to provide fresh food for the poor and marginalized in downtown Hamilton”, he said.
The De Mazenod Farm will grow over 40 types of vegetables and herbs including beans, peppers, potatoes, beets, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower. Once harvested, the produce will be sent to the De Mazenod Door kitchen, where it will be used to create homemade meals for the Door guests including hearty soups, stews and casseroles.
The Farm will also be home to 36 laying chickens who will provide eggs for every Tuesday’s breakfast: an egg baked in a golden toast nest. Guests already eagerly look forward to their “eggs in a basket” and will soon find it even tastier when it is made with farm-fresh eggs.
A special garden will grow flowers that will decorate our church for special feast days and Sunday during the summer and fall. We will also plan to create prayer spaces on the farm, where people can “get away” and relax in nature.
More than just the fresh food it will produce, the Farm will also be a place of community building, seeking to engage, educate and empower all who visit and wish to lend a helping hand. The Farm will welcome 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 will produce a whole bounty of goodness and cultivate a community of love and compassion,” Fr. Tony further stated.