The most unexpected encounters can lead to the most unexpected adventures when exploring new spaces. I had read about a market in Venice that was most unusual and so one morning my Hubby and I set out to find it. The market was on Guidecca, one of the islands of Venice and served by Vaporetto.

We were looking for the Women’s Prison and the market that they hold each Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m. The produce is grown by the inmates and sold to the public. The women who tend the gardens are allowed to keep the money made from the sales. The produce is picked right before they sell it…you can’t get fresher than that. They also sell some cosmetics that are made on the premises as another project to teach marketable skills to the women.

We didn’t;t know quite what to expect. As we waited outside the prison for the market to open we chatted with Sara, a woman who had married an Italian 46 years ago and made Venice her home. She shared the market rules with us…don’t touch the produce and you get to choose in the order that you arrive at the market. The produce was wonderful and we were happy to select our choices.

We were also able to select from the cosmetics even though they were not really for sale that day.

Sara then invited us to see a hidden garden that was attached to her church and we were delighted by the invitation.

There are not a lot of gardens in Venice and this one is unique. It is behind brick walls and tended by a group of women led by Sara who really does have a “green thumb”. The garden, off the church door is a wonder of color and texture. Sara told us she began by tending the roses using her own method of composting to help them grow. In a short time the roses were thriving and that led to the rejuvenation of the rest of the garden.

The plants were wonderfully healthy with gorgeous colors intermingling. Most of the plants were grown from seed and new additions happen the same way.

Then we were led through a locked door and down a passageway into another courtyard that served as the vegetable garden. Here we could see onions, beans, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes and other varieties growing in beautiful rows. The garden also held fruit trees that were just beginning to develop their seasonal offerings.

Some of the vegetables were protected by netting and some seedlings were still covered to protect them from colder nights.

Being a gardener myself, I was really interested to see the methods for growing flowers and vegetables here. It comes down to good soil, composting, covering the roots and one ingredient all gardeners possess…a big dose of love.

Thanks Sara for sharing your passion with us. If you’re in Venice, visit the Church of Sant’Eufemia on Giudecca and ask to see this most unusual and beautiful garden. If you’re there early on a Thursday morning, stop by a most unusual market. You won’t be disappointed.


6 thoughts on “Garden in a Churchyard

  1. Beautiful garden and lovely market! How fortunate you were to strike up the conversation, be informed, and be invited to see her garden!

    1. Thanks, Rita. The best thing about traveling is the people you meet. Sarah was a treat as was her garden and the women prisoners work really hard on their garden. It was such a pleasure to learn about them. Thanks for visiting.

  2. We had a local sheriff that had the prisoners growing pumpkins in Augusta, ME. We should have more forward looking prison programs!
    The garden was beautiful!

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