Sunday, June 13, 2010
As I (NOW!) embark on my next epic journey I want to share a little bit about it. I’ll be joining the Presbyterian Hunger Program roadtrip on Saturday in Louisville. I will be with a group of what promise to be very interesting people, touring farms and churches and schools and all kinds of organizations having to do with hunger relief via local agriculture, from Louisville up to Detroit over 2 weeks. In Detroit we hook into the US Social Forum where we will be giving a presentation on "Faith Communities in the Local Food Movement."
We also get to attend many other organizations’ presentations and brainstorm sessions, and hopefully have our minds blown a little more =)
So, yes, I’m diving into the “local-food movement” and its connections to faith... I’m trying to get my practical skills in line, and a little agricultural inspiration to boot, because I have decided I want food and community gardening to be an element of my ministry, forever and ever, Amen.
This is a new decision, and a little story is in order. A year and a half ago I scooted up to Lostine, Oregon to check out a church internship in a town of 200. Coming from NYC originally this was a stretch for me, so I was looking for God-signs pointing me there. I found one in the person of June Colony, Community Organizer Extraordinaire. Also a shepherdess, veggie farmer, and a fiddler. She had opened a little shop for folks to sell their homemade crafts and produce, and refused to charge commission because she saw it as her local mission work for the church.
Over the next year as I did indeed intern there, I planted in June’s greenhouse, weeded a lot of ground with her, bottle-fed her lambs, harvested berries, planted a few garden plots, staffed the Local Market, performed together at fiddle contests, rode her horses, and gave a hand in raising her new barn. She also planted and helped us to bring to fruition in our church the Best Mission Project Ever –a dinner of free local food and bluegrass tunes, called Cooks Night Off. What I mean to say, other than that she’s a truly amazing person, is that I learned from June about the fundamental shift that takes place when you begin seeing “your” land as “God’s,” and about the abundance that flows when you open your hands to others. I learned a little about how beautifully transformative this can be. When I got back to seminary my environmental ethics prof said “when we work to heal the earth, the earth works to heal us” and I thrilled at that statement because I had begun learning it. When we take care of our corner of creation, God takes care of us. When we discover the joys of root vegetables we slowly stop craving EZ-mac, and our insides begin healing. When we open our garden gate and let friends plant on “our” precious land, we end up with gifts of overabundant produce, AND a loving web of community around us.
I believe that community gardening and creating local food systems will not only address the problem of hunger and malnutrition, but will also take a stab at some of the underlying causes of our poverty: our isolation, the compartmentalization of our lives, the over-consumerized culture we live in, and our reliance on the wisdom of those experts at Kraft Foods... instead of the intuitions our bodies have as to what’s healthy.
I am so excited to meet more prophets of the same movement, who, like June, don’t waste their time fighting against the insanities of our nation and world, but who just go ahead and plant seeds for a better way. I’m glad to say that those seeds appear to be spreading like mustard.