Sunday, September 25, 2011

Land Sunday

This is Land Sunday for St. Paul's, the third week in Creation Time. It is an opportunity to give thanks for and ponder the importance of the soil and the land which is the essential medium for the food which sustains us.

We tend to take our cultivated areas for granted and because we buy most of our food in grocery stores we don't really consider what our food sources are. It is crazy that we can buy produce in one of the grocery chain stores that comes all the way from California yet is cheaper than the local veggies and fruit. Why is that? Well, the agribusiness farms of California grow half the "fresh" produce in the United States and a lot of ours as well. These farms require intensive chemical applications to grow produce on such a large scale, fossil fuels to get them here, and uniformity in product. The food is inexpensive at the cash register but costly in other ways.

How did we get to this industrial style of food production which has made us so dependent on transported produce while we continue to pave over some of the best farmland in Canada?

Several years ago I wrote about a novel called Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Berry is a college professor, a farmer, and a Christian. The story is told by the local barber, Jayber Crow, who watches through the decades as his farm community changes. His neighbour Ashley Keith farms his 500 acres in a sustainable way but when his son-in-law takes over he has big ideas and moves to an agribusiness model. It is a well told but sad tale.

So much of the Old Testament considers the land and its importance as a gift from God and as a trust to humans. Perhaps we need to read it a little more carefully.



Deborah Laforet said...

Living in southeast Saskatchewan has given me the opportunity to be surrounded people who grow food. Not only the farmers in their huge fields, but also all the people who grow gardens. We have farmers markets here, but, ironically, much of the food is from BC or Manitoba. Local produce here come directly from our backyards.

We will be celebrating Land Sunday next week when we celebrate World-Wide Communion. Many are harvesting here (those who were able to seed despite the floods), and we can truly connect the grain of communion with the wheat of the fields.

lionlamb said...

Welcome back Deb! There is a good article in the latest Walrus magazine (available online) which looks at the huge challenges of farming in the 21st century. The focus is on farms in the West.

I had a long talk with our only farmer, now semi-retired, after worship on Sunday. He was glad I upheld the issues, particularly that so few young people are going into farming. Too expensive, risky, labour intensive. He mentioned that he bought the family farm for $25,000 fifty-plus years ago, which was manageable. Now the price tag is in the millions.

I wish you well next Sunday.