Stan spoke up to encourage our group to think about land use. “The local re-design of our food system requires land, any and all kinds, for gardens, local market space, and supporting storage and handiwork,” he said. “Churches need to actively seek donated land wherever it is available, and provide that space to community partners to nurture local food alternatives.”
Rev. Jeremy Troxler spoke next. Jeremy is a former tobacco farmer. Despite his awe-shucks demeanor he is an elegant spokesman for the agrarian way of life and is now director of the Thriving Rural Communities program at Duke Divinity School. “We need our parishioners to see that sustainable farming is not a liberal agenda,” he said. “In fact it’s really the way my grandfather lived. We need to use the deep wells of scripture to find ways to express that clearly to our congregations.”
Lunch that day was an all-local menu of onion and broccoli quiche, a salad of Jericho lettuce and sugar snap-peas, and fresh strawberries for dessert, all grown in the church’s community garden and on neighboring farms.
Before we ate Stan said something that’s stayed with me. We had been talking about the recent groundswell of interest in agriculture among churches. Shaking his head slightly and speaking in a hushed, almost reverent tone Stan said, “There are 830 churches in the NC Methodist conference. Think if every one of those started a garden or produced their own food. Once they are in motion—that’s an unstoppable force.”
Heads around the table nodded in agreement. The bishop blessed the food. And then we feasted.
Churches can be a huge part of the solution in building the local food network. History can repeat itself.
You can read his complimentary take on the church meeting, here.
His book editor, De Clarke, has several excellent posts at their site. One of them is It's Not Rocket Science: Land Productivity and Food Rights.
My wife and I are starting a blogazine and network called Sustainable Traditions which is all about recovering a holistic Christian worldview.
One of the main projects we are trying to get started as a part of the Sustainable Traditions experiment is called Joseph's Gardens - encouraging and empowering churches to start community gardens. We are still in the initial stages of planning this initiative.
To hear this is already happening and Christian leaders are already standing with the cultivator in hand is mind-blowing!! I am deeply encouraged that the church in the U.S. is waking up to how our communities must reconnect with the land.
Superb article!! Shalom!!
I look forward to an ongoing discussion.
Blessings in your work,
Fred: thank you for sharing. I will definitely check it out!
Both of you: I would love to hear more about your projects over at:
There is a church garden movement afoot it seems.
@wiselywoven on Twitter)
I love what you're doing and if the Methodists would do more gardens like Anathoth,we'd be in paradise.I excerpted this on my blog and linked back to your full piece here. I hope one of these days I'll get up there to see the garden firsthand.
St.Bart's Episcopal in Pittsboro has a weekly free lunch with local food, it's one of the few places I know where we can break bread with all kinds of people,ethnically diverse, old and young,wealthy and down on their luck. Next step I hope is a community garden here.