The San Gabriel convent is located in the thousand-year-old city of Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. It has the seraphic school, which led the friars to build a pool that would serve as recreation for the aspirants and friars in formation. Later and as the years passed, the students had to move from the convent, leaving the pool in oblivion, which, for many years, became an unused space that served to deposit waste.
When Br. Justino arrived, he shared his concern, knowledge and connection with Mother Earth with the Cholula JPIC team, which he had acquired since childhood from his parents. They are natives of a small town called San Agustín Tlacotepec in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. The knowledge imparted from them has been put the team into practice, thus motivating to transform the land and spaces by creating organic urban gardens.
The reflection of Laudato Si’ has led us to analyze the petty interests that have led to over-exploiting the land, which means not only the oppression of farmworkers but also procedures and substances that put the healthy condition of the farm, the land, farmers, and consumers at risk. It may result in distrust of the quality of these products.
All the changes brought by Br. Justino helped us to promote health care since we have access to food free of contaminants that affect our bodies. It is incredible to mention that when we decided to prepare an area for urban gardens, we not only prepared the land, planted the seeds and watered the area. But we also carved out and sowed a conducive environment to strengthen ties with our family and friends. We sow anecdotes, water and nurture our fraternal relationship, take greater awareness of God’s goodness and greatness through the fruits of the Earth, and foster our care for her.
Taking care of the plants that produce fruits allows us to know more about nature, germination, and development. We could get a little closer to the great wisdom of the Creator. We were amazed when we reflected on how it grows from a small seed to the stem, reaches the height, and, of course, bears all the fruits. Given all these, it is unquestionable that urban gardening is didactic, even entertaining, and, many times, can be a good therapy against stress and other diseases.
Besides, there are other benefits from gardening, i.e., large and juicy fruits and vegetables with better flavors than what is available in the market. It also gives the satisfaction of knowing that we contribute to their development and inevitably strengthens the fraternal bonds with our family, friends, and the affective bond with God’s creation, our sister Earth.
Br. Justino Sánchez López OFM
and Team JPIC Cholula