Community Supported Agriculture: Models for Churches
The Situation: As industrial practices have replaced a diversified family farm system of agriculture, uses of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and questionable processing methods have increased dramatically. Many times these practices are at levels that are abusive to humans, animals and the earth itself.
Throughout Scripture there are passages telling us that we are stewards of God’s creation, beginning with Genesis 2:15. We do not truly possess any of God’s creation – the land or the animals – but have been charged with the care of these earthly goods for present and future generations. It is up to each of us to do what we can to leave the earth in as good, or better shape, than what was passed on to us.
Whether we are farmers, consumers, landowners or workers, we all have a responsibility and can make a difference by the choices we make.
A faithful approach: Church Supported Agriculture
There is a faithful and positive response to inequities in our current food system. We have an opportunity to get back in touch with life-giving connections to our food and the land. We can rebuild a system of nurturing our bodies with food that is grown locally, sustainably and safely.
Church (or Congregational) Supported Agriculture is an offshoot of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement. Here are some weblinks to learn more -- and find a CSA in your area:
Here we learn again who grows our food, where and in what manner food is grown, or how far foods travel to reach our tables. CSAs provide an alternative food system that supports the community as well as provides safe, healthy, fresh food with personal connections.
Most importantly, CSAs create relationships among people, especially between the people who grow our food and the rest of us who consume the food with daily prayers of grace.
How a Church can Get Involved
- Identify family farmers who are good stewards of the land and practice good animal husbandry.
- Keep family farmers viable by buying food directly from them through available methods.
- Distribute flyers in the church bulletin or in church mailings with information about area farmers.
- Encourage more farmers to grow and market more products directly with people.
- Set an example by buying locally grown food for church sponsored events.
- Establish a farmers market in the church parking lot.
- Become a drop-off site for CSA distributions.
- Set up a field trip to a farm, either for a seasonal event or through vacation bible school.
- Sponsor events such as food fairs to lift up local food growers; these could be held in conjunction with the release of a parish cookbook.
- Encourage youth groups to sponsor fundraisers to purchase subsidized food shares or locally grown food for the needy in the community.
When we do this we create:
- Supportive and sustainable use of God’s gift of the land and water.
- An opportunity to receive fresh and healthy food to sustain healthy family lifestyles.
- The opportunity to re-establish ties with farming, the land, and our rural roots.
- Involvement of parish families with environmental and socially just projects.
- Viable support for a family farm system of agriculture.
We come to know sustainability when we:
~ Find the balance between ecology and economy within our production methods. ~
~ Have a human respect for Nature’s own economy. ~
~ Act as stewards of God’s creation, not its master. ~
~ Conserve and protect biological and genetic resources of plants, animals and ecosystems. ~
~ Understand sustainability as a continual and all-embracing process. ~
~ See the universe as God’s revelation. ~