I was at a meditation retreat outside of Portland on the weekend. It was held at Queen of Angels Monastery. The Benedictine Sisters who call this place home, are engaged in a number of ministries including an on-site shelter that houses and feeds homeless people. They also support their work by making their own monastery mustard. I picked up several jars in the gift shop, who could resist with names like: Heavenly Jalapeno, Glorious Garlic and Devoutly Dill. They don’t grow the mustard themselves, although they do have a small food garden area and an orchard. Still, as I roamed the beautiful 15-acre grounds, I couldn’t help but notice all the lawn and ornamental gardens. So much space to grow food. While the meals they served us were delicious and vegetarian, I saw no evidence of composting. I was told they do recycle, but there was room for so much more green infrastructure: rainwater collection, a grey water system, permeable paving, green roofs, and on and on.
Religious orders like this one can be found all over the world. They often own a lot of land and likely the sisters and monks have their hands full with their own duties and prayer life. They are also an aging population and may not have the energy nor the know-how to create a more sustainable community.
Seems to me there are opportunities for some fruitful partnerships.