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Sustainable Agriculture

July 2, 2014

By act

by Chris Pharo, PWRDF Diocesan Representative for Nova Scotia and PEI.

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.

Day two of Sharing Bread was, again, very busy. It began with worship in the beautiful surroundings of the outdoor chapel overlooking Shuswap Lake. Pastor Steve delivered an inspiring homily that reminded us all that God is always with us regardless of where we may be. Rev. Steve challenged us to look for God in our daily lives in all that we do.

Our Sharing Bread crew then piled into vans and travelled the two kilometres down the road to visit the Sorrento Centre Farm. We were greeted by “Farmers Dave and Devon” who challenged us to identify the many, many crops being grown in a very limited area. The Sorrento Centre Farm is quite remarkable in that the food produced at the farm is used to supply the Sorrento Centre kitchen while some is sold to the local community through a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) Program. Local residents invest in the farm and are given a basket of produce every week during the growing season. What is not needed in the Centre kitchen or sold through the CSA program is donated to the local food bank.

Farmer Dave did explain that the primary purpose of the farm is to showcase good stewardship of God’s creation in an agricultural context. Although the farm is not certified as an organic farm, it uses organic farming practices.

Fresh from the strawberry patch at the Sorrento Centre FarmDuring the tour, we were also joined by those participating in the Centre’s Youth Program. This was a wonderful hands-on experience on how our food is grown and where it actually comes from. My favorite stop was the strawberry patch where we were invited to pick and eat as many fresh, ripe strawberries as we wished. YUM!!!

After the farm tour we returned to the Sorrento Centre where we heard presentations from our Cuban partners, Bishop Griselda Delgado and Ernesto Gonzalez.

Ernesto presented on the Sustainable Development Program of the Cuban Council of Churches which is supported by PWRDF. This program trains leaders to train others in their communities to increase food production in response to the lack of food available during the “Special Period” in Cuba.  Cuba’s complete reliance on food imports came to an end with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and resulted in drastic food shortages.

Many churches that own land in Cuba are now producing food for their congregations as a result of this program. The program is also encouraging training in food preservation techniques. The preservation of food helps people deal with serious storms and cyclones which often destroy food crops. One of the overriding principles of this program is to ensure that all practices or activities are sustainable and represent good stewardship of God’s creation. Ernesto explained that in Cuba there is a saying – “We borrow our land from our children”.

Bishop Griselda spoke of her experiences when she and her husband Gerardo, were participants in the Sustainable Development Program. She was still a parish priest at that time. When she and Gerardo completed their training, they took what they learned and went back to their parish to start “renewing spaces”. This meant planting crops on the church property to help feed their congregation but also teach their parish other practical skills as well.

On this Canada Day, the visit to Sorrento Farm was a great reminder to me of how fortunate we are as Canadians to enjoy such an abundance of natural resources. As Christians we also have a responsibility to heed God’s call to be responsible stewards of this bounty. The work that PWRDF is doing in Cuba is also a reminder of how we are also called to seek peace, justice and dignity for all.

Day 2, Closing Prayer

Let us pray,

Dear Lord, thank you for this day, and the beautiful weather we are enjoying;

We thank you for bringing us together as a community to learn about food and where it comes from;

We give thanks for the Sorrento Centre and Farm and for those who look after it and tend it;

We are also thankful for…

Lord our God, all this abundance comes from your hand and belongs to you.

We also honour the fact that we are presently in the traditional territory of the Shuswap Nation and we also offer a prayer from the First Nations:

We come with thanksgiving

For our very breath, the warmth of sun, and the sustaining waters

For life all around us; the plants, soft grasses, and sheltering trees

For the ones that crawl, those that swim, and those that fly

For the four legged and the two legged

All of our relations

We celebrate the diversity in creation as reflected in the four winds from the four directions. We especially honour the many peoples with their many gifts for understanding our shared life on eath.

Great Spirit…Help us to understand that we are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.

Amen.

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