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Saint Catharine Farm and Dominican Earth Education Center

Abstract Guided by an ethic of reverence, stewardship, justice, and interconnectedness, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine, Kentucky, are committed to ecological stewardship, economic justice, and sustainable living. The Sisters practice sustainable living, environmental education, and Earth spirituality on their 700 acres of land, which includes a college, health care facility, working farm, Dominican Earth Center, and the Congregation’s Motherhouse. Their ecological education center includes 150 acres of woodland, 170 acres of pasture, ten acres of organic gardens, and a seven-acre model of sustainable living called Jonquil Ridge. In addition to making a walking trail with Earth stations through one of their three timberland preserves, the Sisters have placed fifteen acres of former cropland in a Conservation Reserve Program run by the state. They have built a recycling center, two earth-friendly retreat cabins, and an environmental education center that offers two annual series of experiential programs on themes such as sustainability, healing, and allegiance to the Earth. At the present time, the ten-acre garden, named Peacemeal Organic Gardens, provides fresh organic produce to Sansbury Care Center, a state-licensed health care center, and to local residents through a Farmers’ Market. The gardens are used to educate local Mexican children about earth stewardship, gardening, and basic ecological principles. In cooperation with the University of Kentucky, the Congregation has devoted more than 170 acres of its land to demonstrate ecologically-sound intensive grazing techniques. Guided by the Congregation’s Vision Statement which calls the Sisters to contemplate the interconnectedness of God’s creation, to live simply and sustainably, to oppose violence, and to transform oppressive structures, the Land Trust Committee is working to develop a land ethic that will help protect the ecological integrity of their land into the future. The Coordinator of the Earth Center also writes a monthly Earth Alert column in four local newspapers (Springfield, Lebanon, Bardstown, and Louisville).
Religion Christianity
(Roman Catholic)
Geographic Location United States of America
(St. Catharine, Kentucky)
Duration of Project 1997–Present

The Congregation of Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine, Kentucky, was founded in 1822. The Sisters were gifted with 100 acres of land that they worked from the very beginning. In the early 1980s, a Kentucky State Forester helped to initiate the Timberland Stand Improvement program at St. Catharine Farm with a grant from the United States Forestry Department. The Earth retreat cabins were constructed using ecological design in 1998–1999. The cabins were built by Robert Fairchild, a local builder whose concerns about the Earth guided all his architectural decisions, and they include a compost toilet, solar energy, and a wood stove. A recycling program was initiated in the early 1990s. In 1999 a new recycling center, a resource library, and an Earth center office were added to the farm. The staff has been running a children’s garden project since the summer of 2001, and an expanded organic garden project that was launched in October, 2002. Most recently, the project’s gardener took a course in permaculture, and a grant received in July of 2003 from The Kentucky Division of Forestry will enable the Earth Center to implement permaculture principles in the garden. The Earth Center is also weighing possibilities for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project and new Earth cabins in the near future.

Mission Statement “The Dominican Earth Center, a ministry of the Dominicans of St. Catharine, Kentucky, is a model ecological learning center, committed to earth literacy, earth spirituality, and sustainable living. Aware of the interconnectedness of all God’s creation, we open ourselves to the wisdom of the universe. We collaborate in earth-friendly endeavors with the larger community of central Kentucky and beyond.”
Partner Organizations

The Dominican Alliance
Kentucky Care for the Earth Committee
University of Kentucky Extension Service
Kentucky Division of Forestry

Grantors include:
Kentucky Foundation for Women
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
Sisters of Charity, Cincinnati
Raskob Foundation

Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information

St. Catharine Farm and Dominican Earth Center
2645 Bardstown Rd.
St. Catharine, KY 40061
Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Additional Contact Information
Dominican Earth Center Contact
Sr. Rose Marie Cummins
Ph:       859.336.7778

Farm Contact
Danny Ray Spalding
Ph:      859.336.0444