The mission of NEXUS Community Garden and Urban Farm is to serve as a growing collaborative space bringing together diverse stakeholders from St. Robert Bellarmine parish, Xavier University campus, and neighboring communities. A place to grow genuinely transformative relationships, address food insecurity and hunger, educate around the importance of urban agriculture, and promote sustainability.
Everything is interconnected, and genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature are inseparable from fraternity, justice, and faithfulness to others. —Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (70)
Through NEXUS, our vision is to grow a culture of encounter and mutual belonging amongst all participants, centered on organic gardening, healthy food, environmental justice, and the sacred connections to one another and the Earth.
In partnership with Brick Gardens, a black-owned business with expertise in urban agriculture, we have restored the existing raised beds and increased the total number of beds on-site to 75. Half of those beds grow to produce directly for donation to St. Andrew’s Church Pantry, the Evanston Food Pantry, and other local hunger relief efforts, with nearly 1,000 lbs of produce donated in 2021. We rent out half of the beds to individuals interested in growing their own food. NEXUS also serves as a space for diverse stakeholders, neighbors, and students alike, to collaborate as part of a vibrant agricultural community in Evanston.
- To engage the parish in an active discipleship opportunity with both students and surrounding communities, increasing the number of parishioners involved in growing the farm.
- To engage students and faculty through classes, clubs, and service days in the work of the urban farm, transforming it into an active learning laboratory for student-led projects and community building.
- To employ a student(s) in managing the farm, learning what it means to run a non-profit business, with support from parish staff and Brick Gardens farmers.
- To unite diverse food and farming-related projects on and off-campus, creating a central nexus point for environmental justice and sustainability activities related to food.
- To centralize and support the work of Fresh is Better; focusing on growing good food and good friends in the Evanston community, challenging food insecurity, and serving as a hub for garden education.
- To grow food for donation to surrounding food pantries and soup kitchens, decreasing hunger and food insecurity in our community.
- To provide a quiet and sacred space on campus for peaceful reflection and connection to God and nature.