In the fall of 1994, the ecology committee of the Dominican Sisters of Houston had a dream to use a small plot of the motherhouse grounds for a vegetable garden, one that would give witness to their commitment to live and act in an ecologically responsible manner. On Good Friday in April of 1995, the dream was realized, and a garden was laid out.
The garden has experienced a rich history over the past 25 years. During the first ten years, Sr. Clement Johnson, OP, botanist, founding member of the ecology committee, and resident expert, instructed and inspired garden volunteers and visitors. From the outset, she consulted with Dr. Bob Randall of Urban Harvest in the planning of the garden. The Dominican Sisters’ Community Garden has always been a donation garden. Manna House, a nearby Third Ward social service cooperative, has regularly received donations since the beginning. They also donate garden produce to Star of Hope Mission.
Pilar Hernandez has volunteered in the community garden since 2008. She began serving as garden leader in 2013. Pilar carefully prepares each seasonal planting and watches over the harvest, tending, analyzing, and improving for more abundance. She is a generous plant and seed donor.
Pilar and her husband, Jorge, recently installed a new irrigation system. Sister Heloise Cruzat, OP, garden liaison, describes Pilar as dedicated and knowledgeable, generous, and hard-working! Having taken a course on low-volume irrigation at Urban Harvest, Pilar told Sr. Heloise that she had supplies on order, wanting to gift and install a system here. On Friday evening, July 10, Pilar and her husband began the project. Arriving at 7:00am on Saturday, they had the installation complete by 9:30am!
The system concept is Israeli in origin, is flexible, changeable, and easy to operate: turn on, turn off. Each faucet has a back-flow preventer and a pressure regulator; it is a drip system, no sprayers, no waste of water. Over the years, the garden has had a variety of irrigation installations; this promises to be the best. It was extremely good fortune was to be able to begin using the system during the consecutive days of 100-degree July heat when there was no significant rain in the forecast.