When is the last time you thanked a farmer?

| June 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

farm1During a recent audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis warned about the dangers of pollution and the importance of safeguarding creation as a gift from God.

Few people are as aware of that gift and the need to treat it with respect as our nation’s farmers, who rely on the land, water and other resources to make a living and grow the food that sustains families locally and around the world. That includes nearly 75,000 farmers right here in Minnesota.

But, many of us living in cities and suburbs don’t know much about those farmers, how the food they produce gets to our tables and why we should care about the process used to get it there.

Farmers today face a host of financial, technological and environmental challenges. Some struggle under government and economic policies that aren’t always favorable to smaller, family-owned operations. They must weigh the rewards and risks of using genetically modified organisms and other fast-developing technologies. All of them face the threat posed by long-term climate change and the vagaries of the weather during any given growing season.

That’s one reason the archdiocese hosts an annual Rural Life Sunday celebration. It’s an awareness-building event and an opportunity to give thanks for the men and women who till the land, raise the livestock and help sustain rural communities and the local Church. This year’s celebration will be held June 22 on a Watertown-area farm and feature Mass with Bishop Andrew Cozzens, music, refreshments and children’s activities.

Attending the event is a wonderful way to show your prayerful support and gratitude for the contributions made by farmers and the small towns where they live.

But, it’s just a start.

There are many good resources for learning more about agriculture and environmental stewardship the other 364 days of the year, including Catholic Rural Life, a national organization founded 91 years ago to serve the rural Church.

CRL is grounded in Catholic social teaching, and one of its mantras is that “eating is a moral act” — meaning that food should be produced in ways that are good for the earth, good for consumers and good for farmers and other agricultural workers.

To support food systems that are sustainable, fair and just, CRL recommends getting to know local farmers by visiting farmers’ markets, buying fair-trade products or purchasing a share in a community-supported agriculture venture.

One way we can help answer Pope Francis’ call to care for the environment is by supporting the farmers in our area who are good stewards of the land. It’s one important way to show that we all, no matter where we live, appreciate the gift of creation that God has given us.

How churches can help

  • 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 community-supported agriculture 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.
  • Encourage youth groups to sponsor fundraisers to purchase subsidized food shares or locally grown food for the needy in the community.

Source: Catholic Rural Life; find out more at http://www.ncrlc.com.


Read more: Falling in love with each other — and farming


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Category: Editorials