Pretty flowers are nice to look at, but our ecology tells us that smelly, discarded garbage can play an important role in that beauty.

This was a lesson that Father Albert Utzig, SSC, imparted to his parishioners at St. Mary’s in Fontana in honor of Earth Day last month. Fr. Utzig invited St. Mary parishioners to bring in their kitchen scraps to make compost that will fertilize a flower bed in front of the church.

“People are bringing in two or three bags a day,” said Fr. Utzig.

He and parish staff built a wooden 8-by-3-foot composing box where the kitchen scraps are cooked into fertilizer. Children and teenagers have taken a leading role in the composting project, encouraging parishioners to bring their compost and inviting others to help them plant flower seeds in the fertilized ground.

“The young people are interested,” Fr. Utzig said. “They’re doing the work.”

In early April David Guzman, a 17-year-old parishioner at St. Mary’s, and his friends handed out cups filled with fertilized soil and flower seeds to parishioners as they exited after Mass. Later in the month, they took more of the fertilized soil to plant seeds for the giant sunflowers that have become a tradition at the parish.

Guzman notes that warehouse development continues to encroach on the natural environment around the parish and so he likes the composting and gardening as way to preserve nature.

“It’s nice to have people see life,” he says. “How we can have it here if we choose to. You can plant a flower, simple as that.”

Tying the project into a teaching tool on God’s creation, Fr. Utzig reminds his parishioners everything living is of the same substance.

“God created Adam out of the earth,” he says. “Everything in creation is our brothers and sisters. They’re the same earth that we are — even the fertilizer.

The above comes from a mid-May story in the Inland Catholic Byte.