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Reconnecting with the Earth, Finding Local Solutions, Empowering People

July 4, 2014

By act

by Valerie Maier, PWRDF Diocesan Representative for Ottawa.

Please join us here all week as we have guest bloggers share their experience of the “Sharing Bread” Food Security course at the Sorrento Centre in British Columbia.

Valerie Maier participates in early morning harvesting at Sorrento Centre Farm
Valerie Maier participates in early morning harvesting at Sorrento Centre Farm

Wednesday started early for me at Sorrento – 6:00am.  I was part of a group who volunteered to help with the farm work before the day got too hot.  What a privilege to harvest the wonderful fruits and vegetables raised on this farm!  Of course, I just had to sample the succulent green peas and taste those luscious strawberries and raspberries full knowing that the “fruits” of our labour would be on our dinner plates tonight.

Today was the day that we would learn about many food security programs.  In a video, Naba Gurung, PWRDF staff person, described the qualities of an effective food security program. Food should be readily available, it should be accessible to all, appropriate and cultural acceptable, and include agency -meaning that the people can make decisions around food for themselves.  He described programs in India which were effective by including self help groups, kitchen gardens and education in hygiene and nutrition.

Bishop Griselda and Ernesto shared more details about the struggles Cubans faced when in 1989, overnight, imports from the Soviet Union ended and there was little food.  It was the resourcefulness of the Churches that trained people to figure out local solutions for their community.  Individuals planted gardens in their Church yards and around their homes. The Church taught the theology of taking care of creation, especially the soil so that food production was sustainable.

The video, ” It’s Good to be Full of Beans” told the story of a woman who was trained in farming by PWRDF and who now on a small land holding was able proudly to provide nutritious food for her family.

Jerremie Clyde, a farmer from Alberta, presented on “New Agrarianism” He sees a surge in young people with interests in restorative agriculture,  healing the environment, and building community and food security taking up farming.  His approach is rooted firmly in the Bible and caring for creation.    Smaller plots of land are farmed, using intense methods, often in urban centres where the farmers make agreements with landowners to use the land and share the harvest.  These farmers provide for local markets, focus on connecting consumers to the food producers and use organic and small scale methods to produce nutritious food.

In groups we exchanged information about who was producing food in our communities.  There were community gardens, gardens around Churches and schools, sharing tables, farmers’ markets and markets where fresh, local food is made affordable to all.

Participating in an activity to help us reflect on our ecological footprint
Participating in an activity to help us reflect on our ecological footprint

Part of our reflection this day was an exercise where we were asked to consider the impact of our decisions on the Earth and those with whom we share it. Did we use plastic bags when shopping?  Do we buy local produce?  Do we compost?  Our farmers and Cuban friends demonstrated that they were the most respectful.  We reflected on why changing behaviours is not easy.

Then in the Book of Revelation, we read of the Earth’s abundance and how God provides for us every season and for the healing of the nations. The health of the Earth is connected to our health.

The similarities among the stories we heard today were striking – individual action, reconnecting with the Earth, finding local solutions that empower people, growing food close to home, and producing nutritious food which brings us back to Sorrento Farm.  A place where these concepts are being played out daily!

Day Three, Closing Prayer

Seeds we bring

Lord, to you, will you bless them, O Lord!

Gardens we bring

Lord, to you, will you bless them, O Lord!

Hoes we bring

Lord, to you, will you bless them, O Lord!

Knives we bring

Lord, to you, will you bless them, O Lord!

Hands we bring

Lord, to you, will you bless them, O Lord!

Ourselves we bring

Lord, to you, will you bless us, O Lord!

Adapted from an East African hymn used at Seed Consecration Service

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