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Viatorian Community Reflects a Long Line of Gardeners

June 1, 2017

A new club is taking root at Saint Viator High School: the Veggie Lions.

They take their name from their gardening mission and they are the latest gardeners to take over a plot at the Viatorian Community Garden.

Fr. Dan Hall, CSV, started the garden in 2012, with a goal of providing nutritious vegetables to families in the Northwest suburbs, struggling to put food on the table, but a tradition of gardening on the property goes back to its roots as a 19th Century farm and nursery.

The Viatorian Community purchased the former Draper farm in 1951 with the idea of converting its buildings and land into a novitiate. Some 10 years later, the northern half of the property would be developed into Saint Viator High School, but the Province Center grounds retained their rural character, with a large vegetable garden, fruit trees and even chickens.

Fr. John Toolan, CSV

Fr. John Toolan, CSV, arrived at the Province Center in 1969 and he would spend the next 30 years tending a sustainable vegetable garden — which helped feed the novices — and growing roses on the property.

That same mission now is carried on by nearly two dozen gardeners, which include the members of the Veggie Lions. They are part of a growing ministry that helps animate one of the core objectives of the Viatorian Community, to fight hunger.