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They came, they saw,

they gardened

Joy of ‘ministering to the earth’

brings four local women to

Ohio farm for annual mission

By DAVID MYERS

Southwest Kansas Register

Editor's Note: At right are Bernice Rebein of Dodge City, Sister Marie Hageman, OP, of Garden City, and Sister Rose Mary Stein, OP, and Bernice Droste, both of Dodge City.

Who would have guessed that when the Dominican Sisters from seven different congregations formed in 2009 to become the Dominican Sisters of Peace, one of the benefits would be learning how to measure garlic cloves? Sister Rose Mary Stein, OP, recently spent a week-long mission at the Crown Point Ecological Center near Akron, Ohio, owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Like the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend, the Akron Sisters are now part of one large congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The move has opened doors for Dominican Sisters across several states who now find a greatly increased number of ministries within their new congregation.
With Sister Rose Mary on her mission trip were Sister Marie Hageman, OP, from Garden City, and two lay women, Bernice Rebein and Bernice Droste of Dodge City.  The women worked the land and enjoyed ministering to the earth, Sister Rose Mary said.
Crown Point is a 130-acre farm and education center on a 150-year-old farmstead located in Bath, Ohio. According to Sister Rosemary, the mission of the center is not only to provide healthy, organic food, but to teach about sustainability, community, and the connection between food, land and the people.
Individuals and families may buy a “share” for anywhere from $350 to $1,000, and, depending on their share, provide volunteer work at the center. The $1,000 share is a “sponsor share” for those interested in supporting the produce donations to the Akron Foodbank for the poor.
For their share, they will receive food from the farm, and will become part of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), an organization that includes hundreds of like-minded farmsteads across the country.
Two local Dominican Sisters and several paid employees work the farm full-time. Volunteers are always welcome to serve at the center, including Sister Rose Mary and her team, who spent the first day “weeding until our backs couldn’t take it anymore.”
The next day they began washing vegetables and packing for the “share” holders.
“We helped with the organic gardening,” Sister Rose Mary explained. “We picked produce, and one of our main jobs was preparing produce for the market. People buy their shares in May, and then they come out to pick it up on Wednesdays or Fridays.
“They had a barrel where water flowed through that turns to wash the carrots,” Sister Rose Mary added. “That was an invention I hadn’t seen. Most of the vegetables we washed in a big tub. We were fascinated by the number of volunteers who came out to appreciate the garden.”
The center also provided a living classroom space for garden education for children who will spend time at the farm.
The center boasted a garlic measurer, a board with nails a certain distance apart. Depending on which set of nails the garlic fits through determines whether the clove is small, medium, large or jumbo.
Sister Rose Mary, who has been on several annual missions at sites across the country and in Africa, always ensures that the trips aren’t all work and no play.
“After we finished work there, we’d go back to the motherhouse in Akron for happy hour,” she said with a grin. “That was our fun time.”
Sister Rose Mary said she wants people “to know that there are so many opportunities out there for us to do missionary work and volunteer. Why sit at home and  wonder if I could be of help to people when there is such a need ... and fresh air and a garden?”

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