From a story by Michael Seidel on

“Now, when he has enough, he’ll stop,” Sister Janet Weyker says. She’s holding a baby robin; the bird chirp excitedly as Weyker feeds him worms out of a tin of compost and wild black raspberries from a cup. Since the robin’s mother disappeared, Weyker has taken over, tending to the fledling’s hunger at mealtimes.

This type of stewardship is precisely what motivated Weyker and several other sisters of the Racine Dominican order to found the Eco-Justice Center, a 15-acre learning center, farm and homestead located at 5635 Erie St. in Racine.

As a whole, the Racine Dominicans, a Catholic community of vowed women and lay associates, are committed to the ideas of education and justice. But back in 2000, the nuns saw a gap in their order’s efforts to extend those concepts to the environment.

“(We thought) the environment is in crisis and we should really do something,” Sister Janet says, “I didn’t want to just talk about it anymore, I really want to make that dream a reality. . . .”

“Fifty-five solar panels produce all the energy that we use in the summertime,” Weyker explains. Additionally, the house uses geothermal heating for its heating and air conditioning. “Geothermal is a system where there are pipes buried in the ground 9.5 feet deep, and there’s a constant temperature of 55 degrees. . . .”