White Violet Center for Eco-Justice is a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, who have been farming the land since 1840 — 175 years. They originally emigrated from France to build a school in America and wound up using the land they bought to sustain their endeavors. They raised sheep for wool, chickens for eggs, cows for dairy and nourished the land organically to produce vegetables and grains.
Over the years, the sisters leased some of the land to farmers who used it for profitable commercial production of crops (practices at odds with the organic nurturing of the soil and atmosphere). When they realized the damage being done, they reclaimed the farms and in 1996, the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice was born. Twenty years later, with much love and care, the 343 acres of farmland has returned to its healthy, Certified Organic state and now produces an abundance of food that our Carmel Market District is pleased to bring you.
“We take very good care of our land,” says Candace Minster, Garden Manager. “We use crop rotation and add organic matter like compost, to preserve its fertility. Use of cover crops, like clover, help rebuild the soil with nitrogen. We also take food safety very seriously and sell, what we’ve been told, is the cleanest at the market.”
Specializing in heirloom varieties, the Center brings us heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, beans and organic arugula, which is, according to Ed Cifu, our Director of Fresh Merchandise, “out of this world.”
“What we love about heirloom varieties,” says Candace, “is that they are old (pre-1950s hybrid craze) and open-pollinated. This means pollinated naturally by the wind. Although you might not get consistent germination and cookie-cutter form, you do get beautiful colors, interesting shapes and rich flavors. It’s a win to us.”
Beyond farming, the Center’s mission is to foster a way of living that recognizes the interdependence of all creation. Grounded in an understanding of Providence Spirituality as hope and healing, it offers leadership and education in the preservation, restoration and reverent use of all natural resources, and in creating systems that support justice and sustainability. To this end, the Center provides regularly scheduled educational workshops, cooking classes, eco-spirituality retreats, as well as internship, sabbatical and volunteer opportunities.
“We’re really proud of what we do here,” says Candace. “Our crops are literally the fruit of our labor. We find it beautiful and want you to experience that beauty as well.”
Lettuce Give You a Tip: Candace says hot weather arugula is far spicier than that harvested in the cooler fall months. She recommends wilting it over pasta or using it to make pesto with a little kick.