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Saint Martin of Tours School Garden

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Answering the Pope’s Call to be Stewards, Not Masters of the Earth

On a warm, late summer day the third graders at Saint Martin of Tours gather in the school’s garden to observe the growth that has taken place over the summer. This is their first visit this year; however there is plenty to see as last year’s third grade tilled the soil, replenished the nutrients, planted the seeds, and nurtured this patch of God’s earth to provide a harvest for this year’s class.

On this particular visit, the students are asked to make observations as part of their science class. Groups of students congregate in various sections of the garden focusing on the ripening tomatoes, the soft, fragrant sage, and the array of insects. “I saw two garden spiders, but one might have been a jumping spider,” mentions one student, when asked about his most interesting observation, while a second mentions that her favorite part of the garden is the flowers growing on each plant.

Though it is the science curriculum that brings the class into the garden, it is easy to see the lessons they are learning expand far beyond the state standards. Their teacher, Katherine Alvarado, views the school garden as a way to foster bonds between classes and encourage students to appreciate the natural beauty with which God has blessed us. “In such a busy world, it’s great to see the students focus on a basic part of nature and witness the culmination of God’s presence,” says Alvarado.

The students at Saint Martin are not alone in their awe of the natural world. In 2015, Pope Francis stated that, “Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us. This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters.” As the students lie on the grass and finish sketching their observations, it’s evident that God’s great gift is in wonderful hands.