Sisters seek farm volunteers

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Students from Notre Dame volunteer at Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell. Courtesy photo.

In the fields north of Lowell lies a unique facility— the Franciscan Life Process Center. Volunteers serve as integral partners, helping the nonprofit enrich the lives of West Michigan residents through use of its land, and through its counseling and music therapy programs.

Students from Grand Rapids West Catholic High School volunteer at the Franciscan Life Process Center. Courtesy photo.

“We are dedicated to helping individuals unlock their fullest potential as they journey through the process of life, and provide a wide range of services in art, counseling, land and music therapy to support that process,” said Sarah Kelly, communications, event and volunteer program coordinator for the Center. “We’re seeking volunteers who are interested in learning more about how to be good stewards of God’s creation and promote opportunities for personal growth.”

The Franciscan order draws its name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. And its 230-acre farm was gifted to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist by the late Steelcase chairman and philanthropist Peter M. Wege in 1972, known for his staunch environmental advocacy touted in the book he authored: “Economicology: The Eleventh Commandment.”

As a nonprofit entity, the Franciscan Life Process Center continues to rely on community support to maintain its orchards and large vegetable gardens and to care for and raise livestock, including beef cattle, goats and egg-laying chickens, and beehives. Projects include land maintenance, harvesting, canning produce, farm chores and a variety of seasonal tasks on the Center’s working farm.

People can sign up for volunteer sessions that take place the second Saturday of each month from spring through fall, during which community members work alongside the Sisters on the land from 9 a.m.-noon. In addition to tending land and livestock, volunteers are needed to facilitate environmental education initiatives, and to organize fundraising events that take place on other days throughout 2024, including an Earth Day event April 22 and a 5k run Oct. 7.

Those interested can find out more on volunteer with the Franciscan Sisters online.

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