Blessed are the veggies

THE tomatoes are bursting with flavour and colour but just before they were picked an important ritual occurred - the blessing.

While growing a vegetable garden was a new thing for these Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School students, blessing a garden was a first-time request for Father Paul Devitt.

He was called in yesterday on the request of one of the school student’s parents Paul Pappalardo.

The Italian-born man is a passionate gardener and for the last six months has guided students through how to grow vegetables.

Hailing from Sicily in the country’s southern region, Mr Pappalardo said it was a tradition for a blessing to be performed before planting and again before harvest.

“We do it because it’s a natural thing,” he said.

Kindergarten and year one students gathered quietly while Father Devitt performed the blessing using a leaf to sprinkle water over the vegetable plants and children.

“It’s the first time I’ve been asked,” he said.

“It’s integrating faith into life and life into faith.”

Father Devitt studied social sciences in Rome a number years ago and during that time learnt to speak Italian.

Prior to yesterday’s blessing he asked the students to repeat after him a message of thanks to Mr Pappalardo who brimmed with joy.

With some tomato plants standing higher than the proud students, Mr Pappalardo said the secret to a great vegetable gardens was cow manure and no chemicals.

“You’re best to grow them from seed,” he said.

“There’s five different types of tomatoes as well as Italian beans, green beans, butter beans, yellow zucchini and cucumbers.”

School principal Michael Croke said some vegetables would be cooked by students in school while others would be sold to parents during an upcoming market day.


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