BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A congregation of nuns on Long Island is on a mission to go green.
The sisters are often consumed with prayer, but their hands are getting down into the earth.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, in the spiritual place where 100 nuns call home, there is an emphasis on the tangible. The sisters of St. Joseph are now focusing their mission to serve their neighbors on a very near and dear neighbor.
“Earth is our neighbor,” said Sister Karen Burke, coordinator of land initiatives for Sisters of St. Joseph.
The sisters are using nearly every corner of their 211-acre Brentwood campus as a model of sustainability – from honey-making bee hives to farm-fresh eggs. Now, a new 3,200-panel solar array, the largest private installation on Long Island, powers 63 percent of their energy needs.
The sisters are going green after making a commitment to guide all future decisions on their impact on the environment.
“Right now, the critical need is the preservation of our planet,” said Sister Helen Kearney, president of Sisters of St. Joseph.
They have converted 28 acres into organic gardens, churning out produce to share with the community.
Sister Mary Lou Buser said her calling to God now includes a call to the garden.
“We are here to take care of it,” she said.
Soon, a patch on the sprawling front lawn will be turned into a native grass meadow.
“It’s good for the bees, it’s good for insects, it’s good for earth, the soil quality will be much better, and we don’t have to mow it. So we’re not using all of that energy once a week,” Burke said.
Even the earth underneath the solar array will soon be used in a sustainable way. In the coming days, the sisters will plant a rain garden there with native grasses and pollinator plants, so nothing goes to waste.
Speaking of waste, in the works is an on-site waste treatment facility that removes nitrogen and the permanent preservation of their pristine woodlands.
Their goal is to keep their own land a sacred place and spread the good word.
The solar array saves the sisters $22,000 a year in energy costs.