Fr. Ed’s Veggie Garden
By Laurie Hallstrom
Fr. Ed Vanorny is giddy about his new raised garden beds. He’s already eating freshly dug up carrots and he doesn’t think snap peas will ever make it inside the rectory. “When the pea pods are ready, I’m going to pick them and eat them, I’m not going to bother to cook them,” he said.
Those familiar with the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City know the building has a small island of grass around its base surrounded by a sea of concrete and asphalt, with no room for gardening. In July 2020 Father Vanorny moved back to the cathedral after a post-retirement assignment of five years serving in Buffalo and the surrounding parishes. “I finally reached the age of 75 and officially retired,” he said.
He may be retired, but he says daily Mass for the Benedictine Sisters at St. Martin Monastery, fills in celebrating cathedral Masses, and steps in for Bishop Peter Muhich occasionally filming the weekly television Mass. In his free time, he likes to play cards during the week.
He asked the cathedral pastor if he could put some garden beds behind the rectory garage — there was no objection. He has a small square of pavement that will not hinder the construction workers building a new parish hall. Knights of Columbus Council 1489-member, Bill Grode and his wife Jean, volunteered to build the raised gardens, set them up and fill them with soil.
Father Vanorny has planted cherry tomatoes, carrots, peas, and potatoes. “Next year I’m going to add another garden bed and grow sweet corn. People around the cathedral know if I can eat sweet corn on the cob I love it, love it, love it,” he said.
“The deer found my garden and started eating my tomatoes and peas. So, I bought a little fence and now they are not bothering it at all — it’s wonderful,” he added. There is a small ceramic bunny in one garden bed, and he has a hunch which prankster put it there.
He comes from a family with nine children and their mother taught them to garden. “All of us gardened — there were acres and acres of gardens. Mom canned and froze a lot of stuff,” he said. During his active years, Father Vanorny had gardens at some of his parishes including Presho and Buffalo.
Will any of the vegetables make it to the table?
“I like potatoes — especially fried,” he said.
He also loves Harvard beets, and he plans to learn how to make pickled beets.
Harvard Beets Recipe
¾ cup white sugar, 4 teaspoons cornstarch, ⅓ cup white vinegar, ⅓ cup water, 2 cans sliced beets — drained (he will use fresh beets), 3 tablespoons butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add beets to the liquid, and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. Stir in butter, salt, and pepper, and remove from the heat. Serve warm or chilled.