Posts Categorized: Agriculture

PCUSA congregation plans for World Food Day

food for life with grain flying

Ashley Goff, the associate pastor at the PCUSA Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C. sent us their plans for World Food Day (October 16) and the Food Week of Action.

Here is how she explained it ~~

“We are honoring the Food Week of Action starting October 9th and wanted to share our current plan. At Church of the Pilgrims, we are honoring Food Week in this way:
During our education hour prior to worship, we are having one of our members, Erin LittleStar who is active in sustainable food practices and local food/faith advocacy lead us in an hour of learning more about the food cycle and systems. This is an intergenerational event.

At the end of the hour, we are going to invite people to make 4 choices to honor the week in a practical way:

  1. Compost for a week: We have two standing composts at Pilgrims along with worm composting. People will be invited to compost for a week and bring the compost to church the following Sunday.

  2. SNAP Challenge: One of our members works for the Dept of Agriculture, specifically around SNAP, and recently did a SNAP Challenge with her colleagues. The challenge is to eat for a week on your amount you would receive for food stamps. (See how it works below)

  3. Local Food: Eat one meal a day with locally grown food.

  4. Intentional Prayer: Set an intention before each meal, snack, drink for the week. Setting an intention and honoring where the food has come from and naming if the food with be healthy or destructive to your body (and in turn to the planet).

Each session will be led by a church member who has been doing this practice and can explain the nitty-gritty.

After church, we are having a beekeeping 101 session and a farmer’s market group shopping experience. We have 5 beehives at Pilgrims which pollinate our urban garden (plus areas around us) and our beekeeper is coming to give us more information on our hives, feed the bees, etc.

Erin will be taking another group to our local farmers market to meet some farmer’s, shop for the SNAP challenge and have hands on learning around local food, seeing food as more than fuel but a faith experience.

Worship will be part of Food Week in some way. Yet to be determined!”

You can find all the resources you need for World Food Day and the Food Week of Action on the PCUSA’s Food and Faith website.


 Take the SNAP Challenge:

STEP 1 – Eat on $4/day for a week, a month or longer if you so choose. 

STEP 2 – Experience hunger for yourself and the difficulties faced by hungry people everywhere.

STEP 3 – Engage others by sharing your experience. We encourage you to keep a journal, post to our Facebook page, email us your story or simply share your feelings with with friends, family and coworkers.


And you? Consider getting your congregation to do something for Sunday, World Food Day ~ October 16. How about organizing a group meal? Just email us at php@pcusa.org and we will send you free placemats. No cost. Table discussion questions and other downloadable resources can be found here.

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Farm Subsidies, Price Floors & Daryll Ray

If you remember back to the last farm bill reform activities, you may even remember Daryll Ray and his analysis around subsidies. Well, myths around subsidies being the root of all evil in the farming system persist even among groups such as Bread for the World. Granted the issue can seem complex and it’s easier to mimic what others say (I certainly confess to this sin), but Professor Ray has done a great job of explaining the real story. Thanks to Presbyterian farmer and advisor, Brad Wilson, we have resources on this topic below at the tip of your fingers. Thank you Brad! And if you wish to learn from and join with Presbyterians discussing (and acting on!) similar topics, such as how folks are overhauling the food system with local and regional faith-based initiatives, you are welcome to join the PCUSA Food and Faith Groupsite. Just sign-up to join and you’ll soon be part of this growing group of Agrarian Allies! Daryll Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee has written many excellent materials on the farm bill, price floors, (“price supports,”) farm subsidies, supply management, and related topics. Ray’s best summary of the topic is probably the Executive Summary to his (et al) 2003 report: “ Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide.” Read more…

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A Special Invitation to ‘People of the Land’

Rural Coalition and Agricultural Missions are gathering this summer, and you are invited. If you are a farmworker, small farmer, rancher, rural or tribal community member, or if you hold land near and dear to your heart in other ways,…

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Rich and fulfilling

Over the New Year’s holiday, I looked at some old family pictures. One set shows my grandfather driving a Model T Ford along the rutted, unpaved tracks of what then qualified as a major highway in central Nebraska. My wife’s grandmother reflected to Allyson about the changes she had seen in her lifetime — from hearing the astonishing news of the Wright Brother’s first flight (December, 1903) to seeing live TV images of people walking on the surface of the moon (July, 1969). When we lived in Iowa farm country, Allyson and I saw home movies where our parishoners were plowing fields with teams of horses, and raising sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and chickens in the diverse ecology of a family farm. I’ve had a couple of conversations in the last month with folk describing their experiences growing up with party line telephones, and having eight families able to listen in on each other’s conversations. My, how times change! Today’s farm fields — frequently owned by corporations instead of families — are plowed by enormous tractors, and livestock are raised in the confined settings of industrial agriculture. Increasing numbers of households are giving up their wired telephones, and exclusively using mobile “phones” that are far, far more powerful than the computers that took Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon. Where my adventurous grandfather spent days fighting across muddy Midwestern roads to get from Omaha to Denver, 50 million people now fly through the Denver airport every year, expecting quick and reliable travel to destinations around the world. Generally speaking, all of these changes are matters of great pride to our culture. The rapid transformation of technology, society and economy are named as accomplishments on the accelerating flow of progress. We’ve come to expect, and depend on, things that were unthinkable just a few generations ago. We celebrate each new innovation. Today, I offer a contrasting reminder. It is quite possible to live a rich and fulfilling life without all of the technology that surrounds us. Being fully human does not require internet access. Facebook is just one expression of friendship and community. A large, high-definition flat-screen TV with hundreds of cable channels and on-demand movies is not the only (or even the best) way to experience culture and get information. Travel to a far-away tourist destination does not guarantee either enlightenment or enjoyment. The profound musings of Socrates, Confucius and the Buddha — all from about 2,500 years ago — deal with questions that are pertinent and challenging today. The poetry and prophecy of the Bible provide clear guidance about the meaning of life and ethical relationships, even though the people of ancient Israel didn’t have electric lights, automobiles or MP3 players. The plays of Shakespeare speak compellingly across the centuries, and to cultures far removed from Elizabethan England, with stories that tap into deep and universal themes. The members of countless indigenous cultures — the Pueblo people of the Southwest, the Inuit of the Arctic, the Aborigines of Australia, or the Bushmen of southern Africa, to name just a few — have social structures and sophisticated worldviews that provide religious meaning and ethical guidance finely-tuned to their setting. Art, music, stories and ritual have flourished in every human community at every level of technology. For many thousands of years, people have found joy and meaning in life. Our forebears were not intellectually, spiritually or socially deprived. The gadgets, technology and opportunities of our modern world do not make us more human or more insightful than those who lived before us, or those who now live in a less industrial world.

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The Earth is coming alive

“The Earth is coming alive,” or as Dr. Ellen Davis phrases it: The earth is a living creature, with its own integrity in the sight of its Creator. Dr. Davis has been providing the Hunger Program, the Agrarian Road Trippers, and many in the United States who have read her work (such as The Manna Economy), a biblical basis for understanding the power dynamics and theological interpretation of the industrial food and farming system. This highly technified, energy-intensive system has all but replaced family-scale and organic farming, which of course had been the dominant food system not a century ago. In this new essay called, A Living Creature: A Biblical Perspective on Land Care and Use*, Dr. Davis says that when it comes to food, …I have been surprised to find that even those who do not habitually read the Bible care what it says. Perhaps there is a kind of practical theism that informs the thinking of those who deal daily with the essential means of life. Especially they care when they realize (often with surprise) how much the Bible has to say about maintaining adequate food and water supplies, about protecting the fertile soil and at the same time the economic viability of farming communities – all matters of vulnerability, urgency and indeed danger in our current era of industrialized agriculture. In A Living Creature, which you should download right now and savor, Davis reflects on the relationship between how we eat and the horrific oil disaster the planet just experienced. The modern food system, which hungers for and consumes 10% of our petroleum, is practically connected to this tragedy, but also theologically — The wound in the ocean floor and our dominant food production practices are also connected ideologically, in that both reflect a profound misunderstanding of the created order and the human place in it. That misunderstanding is in the first instance not scientific but theological. Without setting off the spoiler alert, here is one more image from the essay that sets the context for her insightful perspective: Having watched it bleed for months, we are better able to see that the earth is not a machine, nor is it a convenient repository of useful goods. Journalist Naomi Klein comments: ‘After 400 years of being declared dead, and in the middle of so much death, the Earth is coming alive.’ The wound in the ocean floor and our dominant food production practices are also connected ideologically, in that both reflect a profound misunderstanding of the created order and the human place in it. That misunderstanding is in the first instance not scientific but theological. “The Earth is coming alive,” or as Dr. Ellen Davis phrases it: The earth is a living creature, with its own integrity in the sight of its Creator. Dr. Davis has been providing the Hunger Program, the Agrarian Road Trippers, and many in the United States who have read her work (such as The Manna Economy), a biblical basis for understanding the power dynamics and theological interpretation of the industrial food and farming system. This highly technified, energy-intensive system has all but replaced family-scale and organic farming, which of course had been the dominant food system not a century ago. In this new essay called, A Living Creature: A Biblical Perspective on Land Care and Use*, Dr. Davis says that when it comes to food, …I have been surprised to find that even those who do not habitually read the Bible care what it says. Perhaps there is a kind of practical theism that informs the thinking of those who deal daily with the essential means of life. Especially they care when they realize (often with surprise) how much the Bible has to say about maintaining adequate food and water supplies, about protecting the fertile soil and at the same time the economic viability of farming communities – all matters of vulnerability, urgency and indeed danger in our current era of industrialized agriculture.

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Know your food (oh, and your farmer!)

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. Link local farm production to local consumption. Investments in local processing and storage facilities will allow for large scale consumers (e.g. schools, hospitals, small colleges) in rural communities to buy locally produced goods from smaller scale operations. These new and niche markets will leverage the wealth generated from the land, create jobs and repopulate rural communities.

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Rah Rah Rhubarb

Some may think saving rhubarb is going a little too far, but nothing is too small to save. If you like pie, jam, and wine, rhubarb might just be right for you. It grows without chemicals, lasts for years when…

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Farmers tell it like it is

When you visit Iowa, you’re nearly guaranteed to see three things: corn, soy beans, and hog confinements. Those were the focus of the field trip I attended yesterday at the Community Food Security Coalition Conference To be totally blunt about it, maybe you’ve wondered: why are farmers so stupid that they keep growing corn and soybeans year after year?

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undefensible blogs

I can make no claims for these blogs, but thought it was a fabulous list you may wish to dabble in. Enjoy! Blogs Alemany Farm Almond Bean Atrazine Lovers Basia Winograd Beginning Farmer & Rancher blog Beginning Farmers Bike2Barn Bird…

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you couldn’t make this stuff up!

Multinational food and agritech giants are banding together in a bid to throw light on areas of climate change legislation they warn could severely hike food prices. The consortium that includes Cargill, General Mills, Tyson Foods and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, is preparing to release studies it says will demonstrate the potentially drastic effect global warming could have on the cost of food items.

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