On a sunny fall day this past October, members of Fordham University’s Murray Weigel Kohlmann Jesuit Community traveled from their home on the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx to Sisters Hill Farm, the Sisters of Charity farm ministry in Dutchess County. Twelve people made the day trip, including several retired Jesuit priests and a Jesuit brother, a couple of graduate students, two nurse aids, the community’s executive director, and two chefs. They were met at the farm by director “Farmer Dave” Hambleton and Sister Mary Ann Garisto, the founder of Sisters Hill Farm and now Farm Director Emerita.

How did the visit come about? “It’s Covid-related,” according to Margaret Monahan, the Community’s Executive Director who organized the day trip. Like so many others in New York state, the members of the community had gone into lockdown beginning in late March. For Monahan, finding and organizing safe activities through the following months of the pandemic proved to be challenge. So many of their favorite activities had been disrupted. Not everyone could enjoy a walk on campus, as some members had physical challenges. “Where could we go where we could be outside?” she recalled asking herself.

The members of the Jesuit community already subscribed as shareholders of Sisters Hill Farm and enjoyed the farm’s produce. “They love organic vegetables — that’s such a boon to them,” Monahan said. The farm turned out to be a perfect spot for a safe trip, offering open spaces for social distancing. After a quick correspondence with Farmer Dave, the plan came together. Monahan reserved the Greyhound bus.

Two chefs traveled to the farm early in the day to prepare an autumn meal, working with the organic produce to cook pumpkin carbonara and other dishes. Farmer Dave gave the group a tour of the farm. A staff member recalled that in the days following, one of the visitors said that after the trip he had “the best night’s sleep in months.”    

Front row: Sr. Mary Ann Garisto, Farmer Dave, Jack Podsiadlo SJ, Tom Smith SJ, Leo Manglaviti SJ.
Back row: Stanis Liu, SJ grad student from China; John Lucchese, chef and food vendor; Adelaide Cele (nurse aide), Sean Bancroft (chef), Br. Marco Rodriguez SJ, Joe Billotti SJ, Joe Lux SJ, Margaret Monahan, Vinod Fernandez, SJ grad student from India and Kwaku Amankwah, nurse aide.       

To learn more about Sisters Hill Farm, visit the farm’s website at www.sistershillfarm.org/

By Teri Tynes, Communications Associate