Holy Cow! Faith-Based Farming

 Joseph Ritter von Führich - The dream of the St. Isidor

Joseph Ritter von Führich – The dream of the St. Isidor, patron saint of farmers

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise, and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.
                              –Paul Harvey

The modern food movement has found an ally in God.
Organic farmers and faith-based farmers have discovered their shared mission in matters of growing, managing, and even consuming food.

Divine and earthly imperatives intersect at the farm.
That’s where creation, mission, community, land stewardship, and social justice all converge, and and for some, theology and spirituality are thrown into the mix. There are shared concerns for animal welfare, the environment, hunger, and poverty. Religious texts like the Bible and the Koran have as many food references as The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and faith-based farmers recognize that Jesus wouldn’t want us factory farming any more than Michael Pollan.

Farming has always been imbued with meaning, both sacred and secular.
Plants grow and bloom on their own, and the human hand of agricultural reinforces the knowledge that we’re not just in the world but also of it. We’re part of something larger that will continue without us, and while we can tame it with knowledge of genetics and soil microbes, we don’t fully own it. You can call it philosophy, karma, or the hand of God; that’s just perspective.

Many faith-based farms welcome visitors.
There are classes, retreats, camps, farm stands, and celebrations where you can nourish body and soul.

Koinonia Farm has been growing Georgia pecans and peanuts as a ‘demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God‘ since 1942. It’s the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity and other ministries for social justice.

You’ll be up even earlier than the chickens during an overnight visit with the monks at South Carolina’s Mepken Abbey. There are 3am prayers and meditation before the workday begins on the mushroom farm.

There’s a goat named Bagel and the organic pickles are kosher at Adamah Farm, housed at a Jewish retreat center in Connecticut. Or you can study Yiddish while helping with the kosher wheat harvest (for Passover matzoh) at the language-immersion farm camp started by a graduate of Adamah’s fellowship program.

The big daddy of faith-based farms has to be Castel Gandolfo. Every Pope since Pius XI has gathered eggs and bottled olive oil as the overseer of its 50 acres. Later this year, Pope Francis will be the first to open its vegetable gardens, chicken coops, and eight-hundred-year-old olive groves to the public.

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