Respect Life Month
Human and earth health linked
Denmark retreat center practices care of earth
By Sr. Caroline Sullivan, OP
'Renewing for the 21st Century:
Loving the Earth'
The Bridge-Between Retreat Center
After a busy day, which began before sunrise, four tired bodies heap 330-foot-long row covers onto a wagon bed. Our donated 1956 Ford 601 tractor pulls the wagon out to the fields. Then, with flashlights and full moon, we walk along the rows of nesting vegetables. We are providing them protection from this frosty
night and can almost hear their sighs of thankfulness for extended life, much like people given a second
In 1987, the Sinsinawa Dominicans purchased a run-down farm and accepted the challenge of renovating
the 1890s buildings into a retreat center. The silo, granary, barn and farmhouse have been lovingly restored
thanks to many volunteers, skilled workers and financial assistance.
The land has also been reclaimed through innumerable hours of back-breaking effort, and is once again life-sustaining.
As earth stewards, we realize the connection between the health of the soil and human health. At the
Bridge, we farm without pesticides or herbicides, nor with any genetically engineered seed. By using
sustainable agricultural practices, our OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association) certified garden
provides nutritionally superior and flavorful veggies which reflect the quality of the earth.
We say we have "great tasting produce with conscience." This method of gardening really nirrors the
natural laws of living and the interdependency of all life.
We sell our "earth-friendly veggetables at local farmers markets and to area restaurants. We also market our
eggs and wool. Our onsite "Forget-Me-Not Shoppe features homemade, natural products from knit woolens
Preserving is a way of life at The Bridge-Between. We can, freeze and dry summers flavors in order to
savor them on cold winter days. Each lunch creates "soup savers," bits of this and that, garden tidbits,
leftover salad greens and other tasty morsels. It's recycling at its finest.
People have asked why we choose to have animals. We feel they put us in solidarity with family farmers, as
well as offer comfort and fun to those with children and caregivers tending a loved one. It makes us better
ministers to those seeking spiritual disrection or pastoral counseling. Our free-range children, ducks, llamas
and sheep also help regenerate the soil.
In keeping with our renewable enegy philosophy, we have applied for grants utilizing solar and wind
energy, and for a geothermal heating/cooling system. We believe we have an opportunity to show by
example how an ordinary homeowner can incorporate earth saving and energy saving devices.
The ministry of The Bridge-Betweeen serves both soul and soil. We welcome your calls -- at 920-864-7230
-- for more information concerning retreats, organic farming or volunterring. Or you can visit our web site
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