He is honored with a feast on the 27th day of September in the U.K., in France and in the U.S.. Born to peasant parents in the Kingdom of France, the family resided near the Paul river and it is believed that their surname was derived from there. Noteworthy however, young Vincent wrote his last name as Depaul to avoid any inference that he was of nobility.
The tales of his studies and his slavery are of little importance here. It is his legacy in modern times that we’ll focus on. You see, here in my town, there is a Center that bears his name where daily meals are served to those who are hungry.
The food program at St. Vincent de Paul has been always been dependent on charitable donations and the service of community members who staff the kitchen. While donations are greatly appreciated, the non-perishable packaged goods so often received by our food banks often lack importance on the food pyramid. Thus, a new vision was cast.
The local staff have set a goal of a weekly delivery of 1000 lbs of fresh produce directly to the kitchen. And so they set out to plant their very own garden. Today, their small green oasis is providing a welcome supplement to the donated items. Their mantra is permaculture.
Permaculture is a holistic system focused on creating a continuous loop in the community garden. It begins with the creation of healthy soil, features the planting of diverse produce, and then refocuses on the dirt once the harvest is complete. Make soil. Grow produce. Harvest. Repeat.
Like the continuous studies of the good Saint, this garden is similarly situated as a continuous learning environment. It is a bit of a laboratory where local entrepreneurs in hydroponics (water only) and aquaponics (waste and water) engage to test out new methods. They are experimenting with a tower which appears to be perfect for small balcony gardening. There is also a building just aching for occupancy by food entrepreneurs – a future ag-tech incubator.
Our Urban Farmer guide, David Smith credits the proximity to the kitchen and ample volunteers for the success of this program. After having visited, I credit him.
They say that the heart of St. Vincent de Paul is still incorrupt and is displayed in the chapel of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. I don’t know if this is true but I do believe his heart lies within this community garden.
(yield about 8 servings)
- 4 medium artichokes
- lemon juice from one lemon
- 2-3 Tbs olive oil
- grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the water. Trim the tops and edge of stems from the artichokes. Cut them in half lengthwise and remove the choke. I often use a melon baller for this. Place the artichoke halves in the lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat the grill for medium-high heat.
Add artichokes to boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain. Squeeze the remaining lemon half into a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil and salt and pepper.
Brush the artichokes with a coating of the oil and place them on the grill. Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with dip and turning frequently, until the tips are a little charred. Serve immediately with the remaining oil and sprinkle with parmesan if desired.