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Cultivating Connections: Chardon Composting Club

At Notre Dame Village in Chardon, OH, a dedicated group of sisters and residents have been making an impactful effort to care for God’s creation. Beginning their work in March 2022, the “Compost Club” set out to nurture the earth in their own backyard. The club is headed by Sr. Lisette Petelin, Sr. Joanne Zeitz, and Sr. Marie Manning. They are joined by Sr. Paulamarie Lacy, Sr. Helen Burdenski, and are supported by Sr. Kathleen Tobin, who collects coffee grounds and eggshells from the Provincial Center.

The Compost Club is carrying forward the legacy set by Sr. Nancy MacDermott and Sr. Alice Dugar, who were leaders, for many years, in raising awareness for our call to care for God’s creation. After Sr. Alice’s passing, Sr. Marie Manning was inspired to continue this work through a grant from Catholic Climate Covenant for three rolling composters.

When asked about her motivation for composting, Sr. Marie said, “I am extremely concerned about the ravaged earth we are leaving to the children of the future. Composting is a way to keep food out of landfills, as well as to enrich our depleted soil. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to care for God’s beautiful creation.”

Composting is not just about diverting waste from landfills—it’s about replenishing and enriching the soil, ensuring that it remains fertile for generations to come. Each week, club members gather Notre Dame Village residents’ compost buckets filled with food scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, and eggshells. They then empty the contents of the individual buckets into very large buckets and mix them with “carbon,” or small pieces of cardboard toilet paper rolls collected and cut up by several sisters. The large buckets are then emptied outdoors into rolling composters, where water is added before the compost scraps are again mixed. It takes longer for the scraps to break down during the winter when there isn’t much sun but, by spring planting time, there is rich compost.

Their work extends well beyond the act of composting itself. It builds connections and fosters a sense of community. In addition to the fun conversation shared while composting, there is a sense of satisfaction knowing that the compost will breathe life into the gardens across the community. The finished compost finds its way into the soil of the community garden in East Cleveland where Sr. Marie volunteers, the Notre Dame Center Garden, tended by Sr. Kathleen, as well as the gardens of Notre Dame Village. The work of Chardon’s Compost Club is a testament to the transformative potential of small, everyday gestures in our obligation of caring for creation.

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