Climate Corner: Growing good for the planet

Apr 13, 2024

Sister Molly Bauer

Many faith communities are collaborating with other organizations and individuals desiring to make a difference by caring for our sacred earth. This often arises from the understanding that we are called to be good stewards of the Earth. Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) promotes climate action from a faith-based perspective. IPL’s week to encourage nationwide action on climate is April 19-28. This year’s theme is Common Ground: Cultivating Connections Between Our Faith, Our Food and the Climate. The Green Sanctuary committee of the First UU Society of Marietta (232 Third St., Marietta) will be hosting a free screening of “Common Ground” from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on April 21 in the congregation’s social hall. The public is invited to attend. This documentary film explores how regenerative agriculture can help heal the soil, our health and the planet.

As you probably know, many churches in the Mid-Ohio Valley and beyond have food pantries, gardens, community meals and other activities that endeavor to respond to the needs of the community in practical ways. I am a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. I would like to note some of the efforts of the Congregation of St. Joseph regarding food given that our faith, our food, and the climate are interconnected. Our Wheeling Center is home to more than 20 senior sisters. They desire to do their part in caring for the environment and one another. They work with Cura Dining Services in a “No Waste Food Program,” a “Be Well” Nutrition Program, and a kitchen garden.

When I spoke with Scott Maguire, director of dining services, he emphasized that sending food to landfills is not only a waste of precious natural resources (which is bad), it also contributes to climate change (very bad). Our goal is to reduce and redirect as much food waste as possible, keeping it out of landfills and transforming it into something that feeds our people and our environment. Waste Nothing is a simple system to measure, reduce, and repurpose surplus food in your kitchen. ​​​​​​​

This is the amount of food that we did not send to the landfill, and it’s measured in the size of quarts. As hard as you may try to reduce and reuse, there will be some food waste our kitchens just can’t avoid. Compost, feeding animals, and outsourcing are the top ways to reuse the waste. It turns out we throw a lot of perfectly good food in the trash. We can rescue these neglected ingredients and create additional great recipes that put leftover food scraps to work and combat food waste in the process. For example, using the old bananas for banana bread or leftover breakfast oatmeal to make oatmeal cookies.

The kitchen garden provides a good amount of harvest. We have a few sisters that love being part of it with it being a raised bed and allows them more access to help in the garden. Most of the sisters love the idea of having fresh vegetables pulled from the garden brought in and then served to them for lunch or dinner.

Sharon Mendelson, life enrichment coordinator, said “Last year we harvested many tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers, bell peppers, parsley, oregano, thyme, chives. All were utilized by Cura Dining Services to provide freshly picked healthful flavors to the sisters, from their property.”

Additionally, beginning last year, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wheeling and WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital have collaborated to establish a community garden. This garden space was graciously offered to Wheeling Hospital to grow fresh vegetables for patients and employees. Community volunteers assist Wheeling hospital employees in maintaining the garden throughout the growing season. This will be an ongoing community collaboration for years to come!

Interfaith Power and Light has a wealth of resources for faith communities available at their website to inspire and activate congregations to care for the Earth year-round. Across the nation, people of all faiths will join their voices together on Earth Day, April 22 at noon. See

Angie Iafrate is Outreach Coordinator with West Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, a state affiliate of the national Interfaith Power and Light network. If you would like to set up a time for a conversation with her, her email is


Sister Molly Bauer is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, resides in Parkersburg and is a member of the Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action board.