Fill Your Cup While Helping Others Fill Their Plates

By Kyle Staarmann, RN
Garden Volunteer

Sister Carmen Garden started in 2012 as a way to support the food bank and the mission of the organization, which has been feeding local families for 40 years. After spending a morning with the staff and volunteers in the garden, it is clear that it is in fact so much more than that.

After the past two years, surviving a global pandemic, historic fires and the challenges presented by everyday life, we all may feel our cups are running empty. It may feel harder to show up to work your most engaged self, to feel truly present with friends and family, and to feel that our self-care activities are doing the trick. I know that I’ve been in that place recently, running closer to empty than normal, hoping to find the rejuvenation I’ve been struggling to grasp.

Enter the whimsical, sunny, productive garden at sister carmen. A small plot growing everything from basil to carrots, with pumpkins, beans and tomatoes set to climb up trellises as the summer grows into fall. Flowers line the northeast side, a home for pollinators and a contributor to the brightening of the Sister Carmen office space, as volunteers distribute bouquets throughout the building to brighten everyday rooms. The garden is a home of its own, providing space and food for creatures like caterpillars to blossom into beautiful butterflies.

After only a few morning hours there, I felt a refresh I’ve been craving for months.

There are many ways to volunteer in the Sister Carmen Garden. Robyn, the extraordinary, passionate and knowledgeable caretaker, hosts camps of kids, corporate teams, and individuals alike to join her in the space that offers food and fuel for both body and soul. Tasks include picking vegetables, parceling portions for the food bank shelves, building fencing or garden boxes, and turning compost. Needs are tailored to meet the skills and goals of each individual or group of volunteers of all ages and differing talents.

The food grown in the garden goes into the Sister Carmen food bank, working to feed more than 50 families every day. This all organic, locally grown produce allows families in times of need to feel refreshed and proud of the food put on their table. The power of a good meal can go a long way to helping an individual get back on his or her feet.

So if you are feeling, perhaps, that your cup has been a little drained, your team could use an influx of fresh energy, or your family is seeming sluggish and disconnected, come volunteer at the Sister Carmen Garden! It promises to be a day of rejuvenation and connection to earth, all while providing valuable support for the Lafayette community and beyond.

Contact Robyn to find out more about volunteering opportunities in the garden.

“We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.” – Jenny Unglow

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