Praying for Plenty: Rogation Day Organic Garden Festival Saturday


Wally Merna, manager of the Long Island Council of Churches Freeport Emergency Food Pantry. • photos by Susan Salem

Just as farmers and gardeners the island over are coaxing their raised beds back to life, an ancient feast day will be revived in North Bellmore on Saturday to bless the spring planting, complete with procession, music and a potluck.

“Rogation is an ancient feast day observed by older cultures around the world,” says Father Mark Genszler of St. Francis Episcopal Church (a recent consolidation of St. Mark’s and Christ the King) in North Bellmore. “’Rogare’ is the Latin for ‘to ask.’ Rogation Day is a planting festival to ask for a plentiful growing season. It is also a time to acknowledge your neighbors. It actually included a walk around the boundaries of the parish to say hello and to mend fences.”

St. Francis is the home of the Garden at St. Mark’s, which is in its fifth season of growing food to donate to the Long Island Council of Churches Emergency Food Pantry in Freeport (more than 6,000 pounds of food donated so far).

“’Rogare’ is the Latin for ‘to ask.’ Rogation Day is a planting festival to ask for a plentiful growing season.

On Saturday, May 2, beginning at 9 a.m. the parishioners and garden volunteers (and interested neighbors; the public is invited) will celebrate the church’s first Rogation Day Organic Garden Festival with a series of talks on food, farming, gardening and spirituality, plus simultaneous children’s crafts and activities including some Maypole dancing. There will be soup at lunch (donations welcome to cover the cost) for those who want to spend the whole day. And Gardener Alert: organic landscaper Rich Staudt will be giving away gallons of his fresh-brewed compost tea (bring your own container).

The festival will close with an outdoor procession around the garden and a liturgy with music by the Heaven on Earth Choir, around 3:30 p.m. The community potluck dinner will start around 5 p.m.

“I have been drawn to the intersection of ecology and spirituality for a long time,” says Fr. Genszler. “Even though St. Francis is in very densely packed suburbs, we are trying to heighten awareness about where we live and what it means to live here in this particular spot.”

Saturday, May 2 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The Garden at St. Mark’s
St. Francis Episcopal Church 1692 Bellmore Ave. North Bellmore
Rogation Day Organic Garden Festival
For more information and full schedule go to or call 516.731.3902.