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We’re all connected: John-Michael’s story

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Donor Appreciation Dinner

White Violet Center for Eco-Justice Farm Manager John-Michael Elmore has a lifelong connection to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. 

He shared these heartfelt reflections on his experiences growing up at The Woods in his keynote speech titled “Cultivating Sacred Ground” at the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Donor Appreciation Dinner on June 8. 

Living in the college guest house during the late 1970s, he developed a deep appreciation for the trees, forests and land that make this place sacred. His journey, from playing in the dirt as a baby to cultivating the same ground as an adult, underscores his profound bond with the land that has been revered long before the arrival of Mother Theodore.

“We like to remind each other around here that we’re all connected. We’re a community of employees, women religious, students, interns, donors, customers, neighborhoods, towns, farms, forests and so much more. All interconnected. All reliant on each other. A bond. A sacred bond. And remember, cultivate also means to try to acquire or develop a quality of skill. To apply oneself to improving or developing.

“So, knowing this, cultivating sacred ground can mean so much more.

“We don’t just farm, we act as an extension of the legacy of education that is at the core of the Sisters of Providence.”

White Violet Center for Eco-Justice Farm Manager John-Michael Elmore (right) with intern Kyera in the garden.

Addressing a gathering of 300 dedicated supporters at O’Shaughnessy Dining Hall, John-Michael expressed heartfelt gratitude for the support of the Sisters of Providence and their ministries, like the White Violet Center (WVC). He emphasized how this backing has empowered WVC to advance eco-justice through sustainable farming and robust community support initiatives.

In 2023, WVC made a significant impact by donating over 4,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce to local food banks. John-Michael announced an ambitious goal for 2024: to increase these donations to 10,000 lbs, nearly doubling the contribution to those in need to provide nutritious, hyperlocal food, diverging from the typical offerings of non-perishable goods often found in food banks.

WVC is one of the few local farms accepting SNAP, WIC and SENIOR benefits, which ensures that fresh, healthy food is accessible to all members of the community. The commitment to efficient land use is evident, as they produce an impressive 14,500 pounds per acre of diverse crops — significantly surpassing the yields of conventional crops like corn and soybeans.

John-Michael also highlighted WVC’s dedication to soil health and erosion reduction, as well as sustainable practices like heavy composting, minimal tillage and innovative irrigation systems. Additionally, collaboration with Catholic Charities has successfully diverted tens of thousands of pounds of spoiled food from landfills into WVC’s composting system, enhancing the fertility of the soil and supporting a circular approach to waste management.

We extend our deepest gratitude to all our donors for their unwavering support. Together, we continue to cultivate a vibrant, sustainable and spiritually enriched community. 

If you’re interested in supporting the White Violet Center or to view other giving opportunities, click here. 

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Elizabeth Scamihorn

Elizabeth Scamihorn

Elizabeth Scamihorn currently serves as the director of Communications and Marketing, leveraging more than a decade of experience in fostering civic pride and cultivating connections. Passionate about environmental stewardship, she dedicates time to picking up litter and planting trees, ensuring a more verdant community for generations to come.

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