Prairie and Woodland

The Sisters of St. Francis recognize the interdependent web of all existence and honor the sacredness of all Creation, as expressed in our corporate stand concerning Care of Creation. We commit ourselves to respect and care for the earth, especially the land entrusted to us in Clinton, Iowa.


Our efforts to use the land in earth-friendly ways arose from our commitment to nonviolence. “We found that practicing nonviolence meant thinking about not only how we treated each other, but how we treated our land as well,” explained Sister Marilyn Huegerich.


We preserve and restore the plant system, which is native to Iowa, whenever possible. We study the underlying causes of environmental damage and recommend practical ways to bring about solutions. As part of caring for the earth, we live a simple communal life, conserve natural resources, share our convictions with others, and, thus, hopefully improve the quality of life for all.


We share our homestead with species of plants and animals who inhabited the prairie and woodland long before our congregation arrived in Clinton in 1891.


In 2019, with plans to restore the natural ecosystem on much of the fifty acres of land surrounding The Canticle, we had representatives from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Iowa Department of Natural Resources survey our property. They recommended that invasive plants and trees be removed, and Iowa native species be planted to prevent future soil erosion.


The prairie and woodland restoration, enhancement of the edible landscape (apple orchard, grape arbor, berry bushes, natural herbs, and a large organic garden), and creation of a wildscape and beds of native flowers are not only beautiful to behold, but they are also restoring water sustainability to the land.


The true carbon fixing of the grasslands and filtering capacities of the native vegetation result in cleaner air and water as well as decreased runoff. The deep-rooted plants absorb water, hold the soil, and control erosion.


Restoring the natural ecosystem provides biological diversity and fosters the interconnectedness of ecosystems. This connectedness with creation is integral to our Franciscan lifestyle.