Saturday, June 26, 2010

Urban Agriculture

On the first day of the HEART trip, Jud Hendrix, our designated asker-of-spiritual-questions, asked us a deep one: If the roadtrip is the answer, what is the question?
The question that immediately came to mind for me was “urban or rural?” meaning all kinds of things, from “where shall I live next” to “where shall I raise my children” to “where will I retire” and on and on. I was born and raised in the heart of New York City, where all but one member of my immediate family remain, but last year I took an internship in a small town of 220 residents... and totally lost my love for the city. I assumed I’d never live in a city again. However this trip has re-seeded the possibility of enjoying urban life.
It started in Youngstown, OH. The prophetic Maurice Smalls (a.k.a. the Jamaican Farmer) gathered us on a block that had 2 occupied buildings, half a dozen empty shells of long-abandoned houses, and the rest vacant lots. All the lawns were more or less mowed by the remaining neighbors, and the lone boy who lived on the block rode his bike up and down all afternoon, monitoring us warily. Maurice and a bunch of neighborhood co-conspirators had started a fruit orchard on the corner, and he expounded on the importance of children having healthy snacks to pick each day on their route to school. Healthy food directly affects brain performance. More than that, a garden in the shadow of abandoned houses will give this little boy something to care for and believe in.
Maurice took us to a building perched on a few corners, with no foundation underneath, still owned by a disinterested absentee landlord who made his money in steel decades ago. He patted the trunk of an ailanthus tree, calling it “the mother of thousands,” and said, “this is God.” God is digging invasive roots into that house’s foundations, sinking the symbol of oppressive pride, and taking the block over, plant by plant. Maurice works with God – helping the vegetative takeover of the abandoned shells, through the use of straw, huge bales of discarded paper, table-scrap compost, woodchips, a few seedlings, and the salvageable scraps of hope remaining in the neighborhood. Contemplating the hole left underneath the house he asked us all sharply, “what is God going to send YOU to destroy?”
Maurice also took us around Cleveland (he works everywhere) and we saw food growing in alleys, in tin cans tied to fences, and in straw-bale beds raised above polluted ground or pavement. His confidence is indomitable, his style rapid. “It doesn’t take ten years and a strategic plan. This garden went up in three weeks.” He looks the murder rates and crime statistics in the eye, and unflinchingly leaves his gardens unfenced, knowing that the best protection is the goodwill and investment of the neighbors. One of my roadtripmates heard that he works with interns, and handed him a resume on the spot.
In Detroit we found the same phenomenon on a massive scale. There are uncountable vacant houses and lots, and nearly 1,000 community gardens. Most of these gardens are technically forbidden by city code, and every one of the chickens, goats, beehives, and horses within city limits is an illegal squatter – yet they are wildly proliferating. Neighborhoods are forming organizations where the children and youth can work on a “market garden,” bringing their produce to market and sharing the proceeds. Schools are contributing to their own cafeteria fare. The organization Greening Detroit provided us with a tour of just a few of the agricultural sites. Our traditional car-ride game of pointing out ridiculously large lawns (“that’d be a nice one to garden on”) turned into rapid successions of “look at that garden! And that one!”
Detroit, no less than Cleveland and Youngstown, has been abandoned by many. The city of nearly one million people has not had a major supermarket since the last one pulled out in 2007. A great percentage of Detroit food stamp money is spent at gas station convenience stores. Only five in 100 teenagers of employable age can expect to find work in the area. The entire area is in a quiet but persistent crisis.
Crisis is another way to spell opportunity, and while we hope and pray the “wrong” folks won’t make it into an opportunity for exploitation, we see the seeds of a new future sprouting in the empty soil. There are pockets and places where the “powers that be” are looking away while new communities and creative ways of life begin to flourish – and I want to be part of those!
A word of caution from our prophet, however. He looked at our mainly white group and told us not to relocate just for fun. He asked “do you have work to do where you come from?” and said “I don’t want you here unless you belong here – or if you’re planning to stay for a long time.”
I have to remember that my mobility and freedom to pick a place to live actually reeks of privilege. If I relocate to a place actually abandoned by everyone, fine – but if I’m moving to someone else’s “wasteland,” I need to be invited and welcomed.
But that in mind, I am excited for the future, as now I have a widened and inspired view of places I could be invited to work – urban or rural!

cross-posted to presbyterian.typepad.com/foodandfaith

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

US Social Forum

Today we gave a workshop at the US Social Forum. About 60 people attended (including the 15 of us) out of the, oh, 15,000 or so attendees at the forum! But for this we were very grateful, especially as the room could hold just about exactly 60. They were a diverse crowd from all over the (US) map and of different faith backgrounds. Our presentation was entitled:
Faith Communities in the Local Food Movement: Sustainable and Just!
We began it with a rocking rendition of "Looking East" by Jackson Browne, organized in small groups, introduced the trip as a whole, ourselves as individuals, some of the places we'd been, etc.

This is the portion I did:


Thank you for being here today and participating. The experiences you share are enriching us, and we hope and pray it is mutual. I want to speak for a few minutes on rooting our food justice efforts in our faith, and specifically in our sacred traditions, by which I mean texts, rituals, and wisdom passed down the ages.
In approaching the issues of hunger, food insecurity, and injustice in the food system, it is easy to look to the moral teachings of our respective religions. For many people our entry into food justice work is one of the variants of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a perfectly strong and compelling reason to work for justice and sustainability in our food system. None more is needed. Good ethical reasoning and a healthy sense of moral compunction can take us far, whether we are of any religion or none.
However, our work can only be strengthened, our spirits encouraged, and our faith deepened, by connecting the work we do in the world with the faith we profess. I will be speaking from the Christian tradition, specifically Presbyterian, and I do not pretend to speak FOR my entire church. However, as I relate to you my own reading of a text I hold as sacred, I hope you will be encouraged to look to your own faith, your sacred texts and traditions, and explore whether you can find similar connections. The human relationship with food and with soil is as ancient and essential as the breath of life itself, and so rightly takes a prominent place in many religions.
The story I would like to bring before you today is from the book we know as Exodus. It takes place after the first Passover liberated the Hebrew people from Egypt, and their flight through the Red Sea. I will begin in ch 16 vs 2:
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “if only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meatpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”
Thus begins the establishment of the nation of Israel. The very first question facing the group, released from the laws and social structures of their former life, is “how do we eat?” The answer to this question defines who they will be.
The story goes on. God does indeed send a mysterious breadlike substance down from the sky, called manna, and the people gather enough to eat. They are tested in this. Each person is to gather only what they need. If you try to gather extra, it will rot overnight. EXCEPT on the sixth day of the week when they are each to gather a double portion, so that they have something to eat without going out to gather it on the Sabbath day. God is testing the people. Some don’t trust, and they hoard their food, and others don’t listen to the commandment about the Sabbath, and they are surprised to find there’s no bread from heaven that day.
God needs to test the people in this story, because they are too attached to their old ways. They have been led by miraculous means out of slavery, yet they don’t trust these miracles, and they wish they were back in Egypt eating their regular allotments of meat. In the words of Dr Ellen Davis of Duke Divinity School, the problem is that the Israelites have “learned to trust the deceptive abundance of empire.” In Egypt they were not free, they were not secure, their lives lay at Pharaoh’s very whim, YET Pharaoh always had a lot of grain in his silos, and he fed the slaves just well enough to convince them that they were happy under his thumb – as any cunning government, or corporation, will do to those under its sway. It was a hard task to be weaned out of this pattern of exploitative dependence. Much of the next few books of the Bible are devoted to several sets of divine instructions: how to live, how to eat, how to use the land. How to pattern a society that is the polar opposite of Egypt’s centralized, oppressive, command economy benefitting the few at the expense of the many. Instead, the new nation will guarantee that everyone has a plot of arable land; everyone must have the means of subsistence.
The lessons learned by eating manna from heaven were: 1) trust God to provide, (2) gather only what you need, and (3) take a break. Take a Sabbath. The concept of Sabbath was foundational to ancient Israel, and one of the things that distinguished them from other nations. The law codes prescribe not only on a weekly Sabbath, but also letting your LAND lie fallow, to rest once every seven years to regenerate the soil’s fertility. It’s good technique. Take a break.
Clearly there are a lot of people in this world who need to hear the word: “gather only what you need.” There are a lot of people who need to hear “take a break.” A lot of people need to get out from under the thumb of Pharaoh’s deceptive abundance, and start trusting God instead. And many of these people belong, at least in name, to one of the religions that holds this story as sacred. They need to hear such stories -- and there are many – taught and preached in a way that actually affects their economic practices.
It doesn’t only need to be preached to outsiders, though. Those of us who work actively for food justice and reform need to hear these stories too. We need to know that although today’s situation may be unique, it is NOT entirely new. We need to draw on the wisdom of the ancient storytellers who brought us the story of the Israelites in the wilderness. The details are amazing. Later on when they’ve been eating manna for a while the people complain again, (Num 11:5) remembering Egypt’s fish, and cucumbers, and onions, and leeks, and garlic… and we might do that today, maybe one week when the CSA delivers a few too many root vegetables, we could start moaning about the way we used to buy asparagus year-round, who cares if it’s local or organic… I bet we will fall into some of the same traps. We need to hear the stories of those who have gone before us. We also need to hear their poetry, their longings, their desperate prayers and pleas to God, and know that we are not alone. Just as important as it is for us to connect to one another as we are doing here and now, it is important to connect to those who have gone before us.
I want to end by asking you what traditions inform your work with food justice and sustainability. Is there another text, sacred to you, which speaks of food or the land? Is there a ritual which enacts your care for the land? Is there a saying or a song which inspires you? How do you keep your work rooted in your faith?

(we had a great discussion, went on to meditatively eat a blueberry, contemplate our role in the food revolution, and commit to action. Awesomeness.)
cross-posted at presbyterian.typepad.com/foodandfaith

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A letter to West Virginia

We spent Friday, and Saturday morning, at the Rural Appalachian Improvement League (RAIL) in Mullens, West Virginia. This is a town of about 2,000 in the heart of coal country. We saw a few flat-topped mountains on our way in, as well as machinery ticking away, and coal cars heaped full of the dusty black stuff. Mullens was a “railroad town” which used to be a hot place in the thirties and forties, or so the rumors go – if you’d go there on a Saturday night, you wouldn’t be able to walk through the streets, for so many people were packed in, shoulder-to-shoulder, partying. Needless to say there are more abandoned buildings than crowds these days; ever since coal became a mainly mechanized business, the jobs have dwindled. These days there are only 800 mining jobs in a county of 20,000, where the coal and timber companies combine to control the use of over 85% of the land. The result of this corporate control of land is a systematic approach to controlling the livelihood of the residents of Mullens. In the early mining days, the coal towns would literally forbid gardening – so that the residents would be completely reliant on the company store and hence unable to strike. Today’s methods are less overt but no less effective. As a result of the lack of public control of their land, Mullens’ freedom has been hidden behind an invisible veil of corporate non-accountability.
RAIL is working to bring freedom and hope back to Mullens through various community projects. The projects are headed up by Jack and Rebekah. Jack arrived two years ago, funded by a grant “to start a farmers’ market.” He found there were no farmers... (dramatic pause).... so instead his work shifted toward local agriculture. We saw the fruits of his labors... they do indeed now have farmers’ markets, supplied from folks’ backyards and several small community gardens. These gardens are on slots of land as small as 1/8 acre, squeezed between roads, rails, and the river, shaded by the hills to end up with only a few hours of sunlight per day, and subject to frequent flooding due to the devastation of logging and mining. Due to these constraints the local agricultural practices more resemble urban gardening, trying to grow as much food as possible on the tiny scraps of land they have.
The rivers and creeks were greatly polluted. This is not just because of the effects of logging and mining, but also because of a “build ‘em cheap” philosophy on the part of those who developed the land, ever since the earliest mining days. Even today 65% of the houses in the area lack septic systems, and dump straight into the streams. The bacterial count is astronomical, yet some folks still fish in the streams.
In such a heart breaking setting of poverty, long lines at the food banks, environmental degradation, and lack of economic options, it was encouraging to see so many good folks working to create a local economy. It was also great to have a little guitar and banjo jam session before we left, and to lift our spirits through music, from traditional bluegrass to a very nontraditional fun new composition we started – to express our own feelings. Rebeckah, another RAIL intern, sent us off with her beautiful little demo CD to listen to in the car, which kept our hearts aching as we drove away.

A Letter from our heart,

Thank you Rebekah, for the words on your CD allowed all our emotions to flow…
My Heart is crying as we leave your beautiful land. I cry because of my great sorrow and pain for what has happened to you and because of my great disgust of what will happen to you. The people of your land, more so the people of Mullens, Love you. ….I can’t hold back the tears anymore… they have begun to stream down the contours of my face. My emotions are raining. I have never seen so much beauty while simultaneously experiencing so much pain.

The World Must Know...People Must Know!

Our Land is bleeding and our people are covered in the green hue of Mother Earth’s blood. One must ask why but the answer is far too disheartening and far too destructive for one person to swallow. As we move closer to the realization that our perpetual state of denial is killing us, individuals are standing tall in a fallen forest of despair. As we continue on this path based upon a superficial existence and the ideal of short-term gratification, our land and her inhabitants are dwindling.

But there is Hope, there is Spirit and there is Jack and Rebekah! Thank you Rebekah, Jack and the community of Mullens – you all are truly amazing. You have shown me that in the face of overwhelming destruction, sorrow, and despair, the hope and optimistic persona of the human spirit will continue to prevail.

So West Virginia, as I put my heart on paper on your behalf, my tears are streaming down my face, so pure and true like your rivers used to be. As I write, my blood flows between the chambers of my heart allowing for the support of my body... as your clean and pure soil used to be the vital blood of the animals that existed on it. In the wise words of Mr. Doomsday, “the land has been ruined in historical time, but its recovery is now in geological time.” The Stewards, the shepherds of your land have failed you and your inhabitants. Our time to attempt to do what is just and equitable is up, we now must put back our faith in you – as it should have been since the beginning.

By Blain Snipstal and Talitha G Phillips
cross-posted from http://presbyterian.typepad.com/foodandfaith

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wisdom from Dr. Ellen Davis

As a student in Biblical Studies, I was thrilled to find the entire roadtrip kicked off on the right foot -- with in-depth Biblical study. Way to go, Presbyterians! We do not neglect our foundations.

Dr Ellen Davis of Duke Divinity School presented to us her agrarian reading of the Old Testament, recently published as "Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture." She took us carefully through her points, from the creation of humankind in the color and word of "fertile soil" (don't let them fool you that it's "dust" - we are humans from humus); through the first law and the first sin -- regarding how we shall and shall not eat; to the creation of the nation Israel, new-born out of the waters of the Red Sea with two commandments, to take only as much manna as they needed, and to rest on the Sabbath; through the law codes regarding land use; and to the harsh words of the prophets crying against injustice, telling the people to look to their infertile land as evidence of God's judgment.
What she did that I had never encountered before was to compare these thoroughly agrarian texts of the Old Testament to the surviving texts from Israel's neighbors, Egypt and Babylon. Both these nations lacked much literature on agrarian issues. They both dwelt in agricultural security, Egypt from the abundance of the Nile, Babylon through irrigating out of the Tigris and Euphrates. It may have been that they actually had all they needed, and did not need divine commands for their land use. Israel, on the other hand, lived in a fragile ecosystem where four out of ten years were drought or dry -- and they developed complicated codes of divinely sanctioned land use.
Wendell Berry said, "in order to be a true agrarian, you need to have just a little land." If you have an unlimited supply, or if your land appears to be infinitely fertile (like in Egypt), you will never learn to care in the way the ancient Israelites had to. Dr. Davis pointed out that ever since Europeans began pushing out Native Americans, we have been living under the delusion that our land is secure and limitless. Therefore we have exploited it, to the degradation of our topsoil, our water, our seed diversity, and even our own rapidly decreasing set of skills in the arts (not just the sciences) of land care and management.
She helped us understand that we are on the brink of something new (and very old). As our land and ecosystems begin to deteriorate all over the world, are suddenly and with a new urgency called back to the words of the Bible we have so long been reading without our agrarian glasses on. Suddenly we are called to account by the God who made us in God's image, soil-colored, with the wind of the Spirit in our lungs. These images and words take on a new urgency as we finally realize we are no Egypt, we are no Babel(-on) with our invincible heads in the clouds. Once again we are returning to see that our soil is fragile, not to be taken for granted, and only as fertile as God gives it blessing.

This challenging but hopeful reading of the "signs of the times" is one I can put my weight into. A return to Biblical wisdom on land use? We can do this. This, however, contrasts markedly with another, more doomsday-ical interpretation which we heard today in Berea Kentucky, about which I will challenge any of the other tripmates to blog...

Stay tuned at http://presbyterian.typepad.com/foodandfaith/

Sunday, June 13, 2010

on being preached to

Someone told me once, I think in a preaching class, that what folks hear (when we preach) is based 5% on our actual words, 10% on our tone of voice, 20% on our facial expressions... and 65% on who we are. That what people listen for is not a brilliant string of inspiring words... but for a person of character and integrity.

I get that. A few weeks ago we had a guest preacher at St Andrew Pres, and I disagreed with about half of what he said about the Bible, BUT still felt preached-to, and well. He's short, and at one point (a total sidetrack) he went across the room talking about how people think size matters, and degrees matter, and that you can measure people up somehow, and he just opened his arms at the front of the room saying "here i am! I'm just me! and that's okay." It had to be imbedded in the structure of a sermon, of course, but that one moment for me was his sermon. I was preached to -- because his short but steady, faithful, funny self just spoke to my short self with authority and confidence.

Today I heard a sermon of a wholly different sort, and with which I can find nothing to disagree. Dr. Ellen Davis of Duke Divinity School (author of Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: an Agrarian Reading of the Bible) preached on the story of the Israelites and their Manna. She talked about the problem with the Hebrew people (while in Egypt) learning to trust the deceptive abundance of Empire. She marveled at how the very first thing that comes up, in how to create a new nation, is how to eat. She said Israel and we heard America. She said "the Biblical story condemns us" and our foolishly grasping at the false prosperity of agriculture and economy based on scarcity and fear instead of abundance and Sabbath rest. EVERYTHING SHE SAID WAS AMAZING.
But I felt the most powerfully preached-to when at the end of the service she blessed us, in Hebrew and English. She had authority and power as she fluently recited the Hebrew words, and as she stood there with hands lifted high. The sermon I heard today was actually just me saying to myself "I am in the presence of a woman of formidable academic credentials who BELIEVES and proclaims and preaches that we need to reform our agricultural system, for a host of reasons including spiritual ones."
AND she has hope.
yes. let's do this. here we go!

On Relocating

My AMAZING Summer Bookgroup is going through the 12 marks of a New Monasticism, not necessarily in order, so now, week two, we did Mark 1: “Relocation to the abandoned places of empire.”

I must report that we brought up good and deep issues about defining “abandoned places.” Deserts are abandoned. The Gulf beaches are getting abandoned. Detroit is getting to be a certain sort of abandoned (and I can’t wait to see this place for myself in 2 weeks!) But a lot of Christians like to assume that most of the developing world is abandoned, and that slums are abandoned, to which I say that they may be a desert in that they are dry of wealth & power & white people, but these are inhabited deserts. Relocating yourself into someone else’s community and culture is a radically different kind of endeavor. If the GTU has taught us anything it’s that cultural sensitivity is paramount!

Leaving that brilliant conversation aside, I want to reflect a bit on relocation itself. Yes I’ve blogged on this before – but it just won’t go away! I just said goodbye to many of my classmates who graduated on schedule, a year (ish...) before I will. This is partly because I really like studying the Bible and partly because I just hate leaving.
Curses on the rule of Greek grammar that takes an innocent participle, apparently “as you are going, therefore, make disciples...” and quite legitimately re-translates Matthew 28:19 “GO!” We Christians like to repeat this command a lot, way more than the “give all you own to the poor” command, because, hey, going lots of places is adventurous, thrilling, kinda sexy, and usually entails all the right kinds of personal challenges which one can overcome & grow & become a Better Person, and tell good stories about it later.

I know this because I do it all the time. If you don’t count this one month of travel, by the time I leave for Uganda next summer I may have stayed in one place for 18 months, which is basically a world record. I’m always on the go. I march around the globe with a certain U2 song stuck in my head, looking for God or something, and since I stiiiiiii-ill haven’t found (sing along!) that sense of radical completeness and wholeness that God will give me someday (but maybe not in this life) I keep going, moving, looking for another divine Call.

But recently something shifted in me. It started last spring break when midway through a roadtrip I realized I wanted to be staycationing instead, and the same sense gnaws at me this very moment, on Amtrak, headed for weeks of journeying which makes my friends “tired just thinking about it!” I wonder if I wouldn’t rather be staying put for once. Last weekend I went to an amazing Sea Chantey Sing on a tall ship in SF, and after singing my first chantey was greeted by “where are you from? Welcome home!” and my heart leapt up a little but it also hesitated... remembering all the other times I’ve heard “Welcome home!” in the places I sent myself, from Binghamton to Glenkirk, Prague, Uganda, Lostine (whoops... Lostine... there goes my heart again)... and never yet have I actually Stayed.

Partly I blame the Bible. There is quite frankly a lot of it that functions to disturb, uproot, and dis-locate us. Take it seriously, and you have to question everything. It messes your life up; it sends you wandering.
It’s hard to belong to a kingdom not of this world, and be at home in a place not made by hands.

But in my new quest for stability and grounding, I can take in some Bible to strengthen that too. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together. I can gather to myself the stones of silence, simplicity, prayer, stones for community, for long relationships, for simplicity and love and mutual interdependencies. Lots of stones for the psalms, especially ps27 & 84. A pile of stones stacks up if you look at the stories behind the Bible texts, especially at scholarly descriptions of the symbiosis in the early Christian communities, between traveling apostles and stable house-church bases. Two groups would feed and support one other, both materially and spiritually. Not all good Christians would hit the road.

Piling up these stones, maybe they’ll actually build me a house. I hope it’s not too large a structure, and pray dearly that I don’t make it a fortress to hide in or a temple to idolize. Just a little resting place where I can center, balance, receive, and be nourished. I’m asking God for temporary reprieve from that dissatisfied relocating. Asking instead to help me stay one place, and truly be in one place, and make the most of it.

AGRARIAN DREAMS




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.