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The contemplative space, which features native plantings, areas for restful private meditation or group activities, and an overlook on the Connecticut River, was built to commemorate the spirit and legacy of the Sisters of Providence, who have been working in service to the Holyoke community for 140 years.
The new garden space is one piece of a year-long celebration by the Sisters of Providence of their 1873 arrival in Western Massachusetts. The Sisters, who are perhaps best known for their establishment of local health-care facilities, have focused their work in the past decades on three priority directions: women, the earth, and the poor. To honor their longevity in the area, they have funded projects that fit those priorities throughout the community. The contemplative space at the Land of Providence is one, representing the crucial need for people to continue to connect with, and protect, the natural spaces in our communities.
“This site provides close access to, and a panoramic view of, the Connecticut River as well as a quiet space to be in touch with creation and with one’s self,” describes Sister Kathleen Popko, SP, President of the Sisters of Providence. “The surrounding tilled soil, flourishing farmland, and the chirping birds create an environment conducive to reflection on beauty and richness of Earth and our responsibility to cherish and protect our planet.”
Designed to showcase the incredible views of the Connecticut River and use healthy native species of plants, the garden is meant to be enjoyed by anyone looking for a natural place of respite within the City of Holyoke.
“As the trees and other plantings grow up over the next several years, the space will become a shady sanctuary along the river,” says Joanna Ballantine, Regional Director for The Trustees. “The area also includes space for communal activities like yoga, so we’re excited to welcome people here for both quiet time to connect with nature, as well as activities that support healthy minds and bodies. We hope it becomes a draw for many more people from Holyoke and surrounding communities to visit this wonderful natural area so close to downtown.”
Joining us that day were State Secretary for Energy and the Environment, Rick Sullivan, Holyoke Mayor, Alex Morse, and the CEO of the Sisters of Providence Health Systems, who also contributed to the improvement at Land of Providence, Dan Moen.
The contemplative garden space was built on The Land of Providence, a 26-acre parcel of farm fields, wildflower fields, and floodplain forests, owned by The Trustees and run in partnership with Nuestras Raices. The Land of Providence was donated to The Trustees of Reservations by the Sisters of Providence in 2009 and features farmer training programs run by Nuestras Raices, youth programs led by The Trustees, public events and programs, and recreational walking trails.
Published August 2013